By Rebecca Reza
It’s no secret that cycling and Formula 1 have been closely linked for years. In 2015, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso tried to start a WorldTour team after losing Euskatel. The endeavor eventually failed. As a big fan of the sport, the Alpine rider consistently trains on the bike.
Finnish rider and longtime former Lewis Hamilton teammate Valtteri Bottas has made the transition to gravel racing thanks to his partner, Canyon SRAM WorldTour veteran Tiffany Cromwell. He surprised F1 fans in San Diego when he showed up to race at the Belgian Waffle Ride earlier this spring. Sponsors have also crossed borders, from INEOS sponsoring Mercedes along with TIBCO, while Israel Premier Tech worked with Williams when they first formed the team before joining the WorldTour.
That’s how a new venture was started, which made its debut at the Monaco Grand Prix last month. Organized by the high-end cycling company Azure Veloin partnership with Red Eye Events and HPS Bike, the unique VIP experience that brought together top pros from both sports for a day of fan interaction and fine dining. For their start, the group chose Monaco because of its convenient location with so many professionals from both sides living in the area.
The host of the day was F1 legend Eddie Jordan with guest of honor Mark Webber and special guest professional cyclist Sam Bennett from Bora Hansgrohe. Former pro Thor Hushovd and his former teammate Christophe Le Mével were also in attendance. Before their ride, the group signed a special jersey at Café Graziella, which was donated to the Princess Charlene of Monaco Foundation.
“Cycling is a sport that can be practiced anywhere in the world,” Webber said. “It’s a sport I love. It was a good relaxation, a way for me to be free and have adventures. In a race car we are strapped in in a cramped, claustrophobic environment where cycling is the opposite.”
After a leisurely drive along the coast from Monaco to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat,
The group stopped at the Jasmine Grill and Lounge at the Royal Riviera Hotel. Everyone enjoyed the restaurant’s stunning views while sipping champagne before tucking into a delicious gourmet lunch.
“I’m a big F1 fan and have been for many years,” said Thor Hushovd. “Living in Monaco, it’s easy to get more involved. It’s a crazy sport, I admire the drivers to see what they can do with the cars at such high speeds. A lot of them like to ride to keep fit so I’m lucky enough to ride with some of them.”
After the success of this first event, the organization by Azure Velohopes to add more events and locations in the coming months and next season as the two sports grow in popularity.