In August, we had the chance to go explore some of Finland’s gravel offerings with none other than Formula 1 star Valtteri Bottas, and now you can too!
Valterri, Amy Charity and the team behind SBT GRVL today announced that the much-anticipated (and equally vowel-less) FNLD GRVL event will make its debut on June 10, 2023, with registration opening to the public on November 15, 2022.
FNLD GRVL is held in and around Lahti on the edge of the Finnish Lake Region, just an hour’s drive north from Helsinki. The region is defined by more than 55,000 lakes that dot a forest-covered plateau and also houses the highest point of Southern Finland, Tiirismaa, which tops out at just 223 meters (732 feet), meaning that breathing comes easily and hard efforts can be sustained.
When we visited this summer we were impressed by the rollercoaster, forest-covered terrain and varied surfaces of the various courses on offer at FNLD GRVL.
Whereas Midwest US and Colorado gravel events are characterized by the vast, expansive plains on coarse gravel, at FNLD GRVL, you won’t know what awaits you around the next corner. Sometimes technical, definitely punchy but all-around fast, the courses feature a little bit of everything: a variety of gravel, forest dirt and farm road asphalt over exhilarating descents and steep climbs.
The city of Lahti is already a well-known sporting destination and host to numerous world-class events ranging from ski jump world cups and MotoGP, to the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championships and RedBull 400 uphill sprint races.
Bottas grew up just 15 kilometers west in Nastola, and still owns a Lake House in Lahti, which gives him out-the-door access to outdoor activities. The bike has been central to his cardio training for many years, and with the endless gravel paths and dirt tracks littering his native home, he’s no stranger to the scenic and peaceful joys of gravel riding.
When girlfriend and WorldTour racer Tiffany Cromwell introduced him to the world of bike racing in 2020, it wasn’t long before he started vying for the podium on his two-wheeled machines as well. After attending his first SBT GRVL cold in Steamboat, Colorado, in 2021, Bottas was so impressed by the organization, racing and community aspect that he wanted to bring it to Finland, where he already organizes a small, annual off-road Duathlon for charity.
Aiming to create thepremier gravel event in Europe,’ FNLD GRVL will feature three course distances, a €20k Euro pro prize purse, and is expected to attract more than 1500 gravel riders from around the world.
The short course, the Forest 40K, is open to e-bikes as well as regular, human-powered bikes.
The medium-length 77-kilometer Lakes course will give riders a small taste of everything the region has to offer.
And the flagship, 177-kilometer Midnight Sun race will see a pro field competing for a €20,000 prize purse.
Just like SBT GRVL, FNLD GRVL will be a one-day race wrapped in a four-day event, starting on June 8 and rolling through June 11 with a program filled with entertainment and activities.
Travel logistics are made easy with the help of public transportation. Helsinki is a quick, less than three-hour flight from either London or Amsterdam, and from there public transportation will take participants to Lahti.
Registration for FNLD Gravel will open November 15, 2022 on BikeReg. Fees range between $100 for the short course to $1000 for a full VIP package, which includes a coffee ride with Bottas and Cromwell.