Australian gravel race with $10,000 purse debuts at Tour Down Under in 2024

Tiffany Cromwell and F1 driver Valterri Bottas at SBT GRVL
Tiffany Cromwell and F1 driver Valterri Bottas at SBT GRVL (Image credit: SBT GRVL / Ryan Steers)

It is not just the sealed roads around South Australia that will host racing this January with the Tour Down Under, but there is company with a new gravel race, RADL GRVL, set to take place.

The event is co- founded by pro cyclist Tiffany Cromwell (Canyon-SRAM), F1 driver Valterri Bottas along with GRVL Events, organisers of SBT GRVL in Colorado and FNLD GRVL in Finland. RADL GRVL will run from January 18 to January 20, with the pro races, a pilot event for 250 riders, set for 131.5 km and 1,791 metres of elevation gain on the 19th. There is a $10,000 AUD prize purse to be split evenly between the top three pro men and women.

“I’ve spent years racing professionally, and the unpaved roads around my hometown of Adelaide are the reason I fell in love with gravel cycling," Cromwell said. "I’m looking forward to bringing RADL GRVL to McLaren Vale at Santos Tour Down Under this January and showing riders from around Australia and beyond what makes the riding, scenery, and hospitality in South Australia so special.”

South Australia has a wealth of scenic gravel roads to choose from ranging from winding tracks in the Adelaide hills, to sandy coastal routes and long trails cutting through the forest. 

After an informal shake-out ride on January 19, the competitive divisions of RADL GRVL take off on Friday through the region of McLaren Vale across the gravel roads of South Australian wine country, a final route yet to be confirmed for the inaugural event. Saturday a post-race, shake-down ride will begin at the Santos Tour Down Under Village and finish with a watch party on Willunga Hill for the stage 5 of the Tour Down Under. 

The new gravel event was placed on the calendar to correspond with the Women's WorldTour and WorldTour races. The Santos Tour Down Under is taking place in Adelaide and regional South Australia from January 12-21, 2024, nine days of elite racing for men and women.

RADL GRVL is the second event where GRVL Events have partnered with Women's WorldTour professional and regular gravel racer Cromwell and her partner Bottas. They both competed at 2022 SBT GRVL, where Cromwell won the women's division on the 100-mile blue course women's division and Bottas won his age category on the red course, 60 miles. 

Together they launched FNLD GRVL in Lahti, Finland this year, which delivered a strong field, including Unbound Gravel 200 women's winner Carolin Schiff and second-placed men's rider Petr Vakoc. Cromwell won the women's race while Trek-Segafredo rider Toms Skujins won the men's race.

“Last June I had the chance to introduce the gravel cycling community to the riding around my hometown of Lahti, Finland at FNLD GRVL, and this year I’m excited that Tiffany gets to do the same around her backyard of South Australia,” Bottas said.

“I’ve enjoyed some very memorable gravel rides around Adelaide and McLaren Vale over the last few years, so when the opportunity arose to bring an event to the area I was fully committed."

RADL GRVL organisers are not only looking to add another gravel racing option for the top gravel competitors but also another venue for recreational riders that flock to South Australia in January, for them to get out and explore the region on their bikes.

Gravel racing has been building momentum in Australia. It has grown from the small grass roots local events from decades ago and now includes two UCI Gravel World Series rounds, a national gravel championships which has been running since 2018, plus a myriad of other events, including a gravel version of the long-running Melbourne to Warrnambool road race – called the Dirty Warrny. The UCI Gravel World Championships will also be held in Nannup, Western Australia in 2026.

The nation's only top-tier tour has long had a heavy focus on providing riding, as well as race viewing, opportunities with scores of recreational riders heading off from the event village each morning and a car park climb and Willunga Hill time trial among the options this year, as well as the new gravel event.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1