“I have been working with Houshang Amiri since 2003. During this time I have won nine National titles.”
- Brian Cowie
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Erinne Willock 2nd at Nature Valley Grand Prix

June 21, 2011

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Erinne Willock (left) on the podium. Photo courtesy Amy Smolens, Pedal



Erinne Willock’s training over the winter and spring at the Pacific Cycling Centre has been paying off in her recent races. Her latest success, just last weekend, was placing 2nd overall at the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

The six stage race started with a 9.7km Riverfront Time Trial in St. Paul, Minnesota. Willock came 10th — the top rider for her team TIBCO/To The Top. This was followed by Stage 2 - a criterium which featured some of the world’s top riders including Giorgia Bronzini, World Road Champion, and US rider Kristin Armstrong. Stage 3 was the road race — 66.5 miles of rolling farm lands. The race had some exciting challenges and a sprint finish. Willock was again the top rider for her team in 10th.

Stage 4 featured a spectacular crash for the women on the last lap of the Uptown Minneapolis Criterium, which canceled that stage and nullified the results. It was with renewed energy that the women went into the next stage — the 121.6km (76-mile) Menomonie Road Race. The race by all standards proved its worth by shaking up the standings. Willock, a powerhouse on hills, came third — moving her up to second overall.

The race had its moments with break-outs at 13 and 32 miles. At 40 miles Willock took the moment to chase after Leah Kirchmann and Amber Neben, and acted as a bridge between two groups. A last minute attack on the final lap secured a one/two for Kirchmann and Neben with Willock just losing the sprint finish but coming in third. Willock’s efforts were rewarded by winning the Sprint and Mountain Jerseys as well as the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Award.

Although sprinting isn’t her specialty, her coach Houshang Amiri has been working with over the winter to improve this. “Erinne is one of the top climbers in the world, and naturally when you are a climber your spiriting isn’t as good,” said Amiri. “One of the main changes we made to her program was to work on her power and sprinting, and we are happy to see how she has responded to the training.”

The final stage, the Stillwater Criterium — proved just as exciting - a 13 lap course climbing the Chilkoot Hill with its maximum 21% grade, 14 times. Willock finished fourth which was enough to place her 2nd in the GC. She told Pedal Magazine afterwards: “This is one of the biggest races in North America so for sure I'm happy with it. There was some good competition here this week. I think it was probably one of the strongest fields this race has ever had.”

Following this finish and her win at Victoria’s Bastion Square Grand Prix, Willock goes into the Nationals confident for a podium finish.




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cycling, athlete, willock, amiri
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cycling, athlete, willock, amiri