Valtteri Bottas sets searing Strava time on Willunga Hill ahead of its Tour Down Under return

The Formula 1 driver has already impressed with his gravel exploits but recently raised eyebrows with his effort up South Australia's most iconic climb

Clock15:27, Monday 8th January 2024
Valtteri Bottas recently posted a hot effort up Adelaide's Willunga Hill climb

© Strava

Valtteri Bottas recently posted a hot effort up Adelaide's Willunga Hill climb

With Willunga Hill returning to the Tour Down Under's route for 2024, after a one-year hiatus in 2023, it comes as no surprise that several of the world's best cyclists are tackling the climb in preparation.

However, when we saw that Valtteri Bottas had posted the 15th-fastest time up the climb's Strava segment for 2024, it made us take notice.

The Finnish Formula 1 driver has been spending the last month enjoying the off-season with his partner and Canyon-SRAM rider Tiffany Cromwell, riding in Los Angeles, back home skiing in Finland and, most recently, ripping it up the Adelaide Hills of South Australia.

Read more: Tiffany Cromwell has a new lease of life as she targets UCI Gravel World Championships

Alongside his Formula 1 career, the Stake F1 Team driver is also aiming to qualify for the UCI Gravel World Championships this year, hosted in Belgium at the start of October.

Bottas will be lining up at the start line of the inaugural RADL GRVL event in Adelaide next week, a race he has co-founded alongside Cromwell and ex-pro Amy Charity, in a bid to help his qualification chances.

As such, the Finn has been gearing up for the event with plenty of training rides in and around Adelaide - which also plays host to the upcoming men's and women's WorldTour stage races.

Read more: Tiffany Cromwell and Valtteri Bottas launch Australian gravel event with $10,000 AUD prize purse

The 34-year-old's ride from 2 January was the one that really caught our eye, though.

Demonstrating his fine form, the two-time Drivers' Championship runner-up set a personal best time up Willunga Hill of 12:28, making him the 15th fastest so far in 2024.

Famous for its frequent inclusion in the Tour Down Under, the climb is 3.72km in length with the winding road having an average gradient of 7%.

Richie Porte, who won six consecutive stages atop Willunga Hill, unsurprisingly holds the KOM for the 4.5 koala bear-rated climb.

Even though the Strava segment begins a few hundred metres up the climb, Porte set a time of six minutes and 34 seconds on the final stage of the 2020 Tour Down Under to put him at the top of the leaderboard by nine seconds.

Read more: The best Strava art of 2023

Meanwhile, Cromwell, who was riding with Bottas at the time, posted an effort of 12:51, 23 seconds slower than her partner but still 16th fastest so far this year.

EF Education-EasyPost's Owain Doull has set the top time this year so far with 9:00, averaging 20km/h and a VAM (vertical ascent in metres per hour) of 1,481.3. Doull's power data showed he exerted 415W during the effort.

Bottas, by comparison, held an average speed of 14.4km/h and a VAM of 1,069.4. His Strava post also revealed that he had a power output of 270W during the segment which rises 222m in elevation.

Porte averaged 27.4km/h with a VAM of 2,030.3 on his KOM-setting effort.

For the first 1km stint of the climb, Bottas currently sits ninth-fastest in 2024, with a time of 4:40.

While he would need to shave off over five minutes of his overall climb time to even get anywhere near the all-time top-10 for Willunga Hill on Strava, Bottas' effort sees him rank higher than several pros, notably more than half a minute faster than Arkéa-B&B Hotels' Dan McLay.

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