Andrea Smith and Mo Bruno Roy locked in battle for second place. Meg McMahon

Andrea Smith and Mo Bruno Roy locked in battle for second place. © Meg McMahon

New England’s best racers were there to challenge cyclocross greats from around the world who are descending on New England for the Holy Week of Cyclocross, the biggest week of cyclocross racing in the US, which began in Lancaster, MA with Wednesday’s second annual Midnight Ride of Cyclocross sponsored by Wheelworks.

Area racers benefited from the world-class talent the Holy Week brings to New England, with seven-time British National Cyclocross Champion Helen Wyman (Kona) leading a two-day cyclocross clinic with her husband Stefan Wyman, advocate for women’s competitive cycling and manager of the Matrix Fitness-Prendas team. Although Helen Wyman was sidelined this evening due to a cold, her winning streak in the UCI races during her stay in New England so far this season promises to continue at Gloucester and Providence next week.

Racing began at 4:00 p.m. as the amateur men and women ramped up the racing action and darkness descended on the course. The racers early in the evening shaped the course, smoothing out lines through challenging turns which would later allow the Elites to rip through corners and speed through the challenging wood chips under the barn roof.

In her trademark style, Crystal Anthony ( kicked off the Elite races by riding away from the women’s field early on. Although mud-loving Mo Bruno Roy (Bob’s Red Mill p/b Seven Cycles) held fast to Anthony’s wheel towards the beginning, the course strongly favored powerhouses like Anthony over the technical skills of Bruno Roy. Anthony slipped away to solo to victory under the lights. A battle for second ensued as Andrea Smith (Ladies First), back from the Southwest, caught Bruno Roy and they traded spots for the duration of the race. Unable to shake one another in an evenly matched duel, the podium was decided by an all out-sprint to the line. Smith took second with Bruno Roy just behind her for third. Frances Morrison (JAM Fund/NCC) showed great early-season form with a fourth-place finish, proving that she will likely be a force to be reckoned with this year.

Next, British National Cyclocross Champion Ian Field (Hargroves Cycles) lined up for the Elite Men’s race, flanked by New England greats Justin Lindine (Redline) and Adam Myerson (Team SmartStop/Mountain Khakis) as the darkness deepened on the periphery of the course. Field jumped off the line, taking an early lead which only grew as Lindine motored ahead of the field to try to bridge up to Field. Despite Lindine’s chase, Field continued to take the win under the fairground floodlights, with Lindine close behind for second. Meanwhile, Manny Goguen (CF Racing p/b Trek Portsmouth) made an extraordinary show of speed and skill for a surprise third-place result to round out the podium.

Next up in New England’s Holy Week is today’s Gran Prix of Gloucester, kicking off the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series. The following weekend, October 6 & 7, the Shimano New England Professional Cyclocross Series heads to the 2005 and 2006 U.S. National Cyclocross Championships venue for the Providence Cyclocross Festival. With the first day of the Providence Cyclocross Festival also ranked as a UCI Category 1 race, Gloucester and Providence offer two Category 1 races within 75 miles of each other in one week. The Night Weasels Cometh, another night-time race on October 3, falls on the Wednesday between the two weekends of racing, making New England’s Holy Week of Cyclocross the biggest week and a half of bike racing in North America.