F1 star heads Down Under for first stage of alternate World Championship mission

Thomas Maher
Valtteri Bottas cycling in Australia

Valtteri Bottas finished 21st in his class in a national cycling event in Australia.

Valtteri Bottas kicked off his New Year with a gruelling cycling endurance event in Australia, ahead of his World Championship hopes.

While most of us are still guiltily picking off the dregs of the Quality Street box left over from Christmas, or coaxing ourselves out the door to hit the gym before the ‘New Me’ sheen fades, Valtteri Bottas has taken part in a major cycling event just for the fun of it.

The Finn, who will race for the renamed Sauber squad ‘Stake F1’ in 2024, headed along to Buninyong in Australia for a national event, the Auscycling Gran Fondo National Championship road race at Mount Buninyong.

Where did Valtteri Bottas finish?

Taking on the 58 kilometre, fully closed-off road race circuit, the event consisted of five laps of the 11.6-kilometre track. With an elevation change of 205 metres, the maximum uphill grade Bottas and his fellow competitors would have faced was 8.4 percent.

Despite still being only 34, Bottas was entered into the older 35 to 39-year-old class, where he finished in 21st. His time of 1 hour 31 minutes was just 10 minutes off the fastest times set in the event.

Bottas shared pictures of his outing on his own social media, for once, wearing clothing – the Finn appearing in unsponsored plain grey and white cycling gear for his race.

He has spent most of his winter break so far in Australia, by now his second home, taking in the sights with his girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell.

PlanetF1.com recommends

WATCH: Inside the crucial world of marshalling that keeps Formula 1 safe and running

Revealed: 10 great motorsport documentaries from the archives

Valtteri Bottas targetting World Champion entry

Ever since entering his relationship with Cromwell, Bottas’ passion for cycling has exploded to the point where it’s become a major part of his life – both in terms of his fitness regime as well as fun and socialising.

The Finn is targetting a World Championship entry this year, in October, with the aim of entering the UCI Gravel World Championship – which is being held in Halle-Leuven in Belgium.

If he wants to be part of them, then Bottas must finish in the top 25 percent of competitors in his 35-39 age category at a UCI Gravel World Series event, with 24 available where he can attempt to do so.

The first one of these takes place in Adelaide, Australia, next week.

“[The Adelaide event] is in January so I’m going to Australia for Christmas so it works perfectly,” he said recently on the Bobby & Jens podcast.

“I do take [races] seriously, and will always go out to challenge myself and make the most of it.

“Whether it’s result, tactically or average speed I go all in. I don’t mind hurting myself. I kind of like it. I will try to qualify for the gravel worlds next year.”

Read Next: Stake F1’s all-new livery hint with notable social media change

We’ve been shortlisted as a finalist in the 2024 Sports Podcast Awards! Your votes would be much appreciated and you can head here to cast. Thank you!