BEN Houlihan, laid low by a virus for the best part of a month, is now regretting forgetting to enter this weekend's National Cyclo-Cross Championships at Shrewsbury.

The 16-year-old from Menston maybe surprised himself by winning Sunday's eighth round of the Yorkshire Points Series in Bradford, especially following a fall soon after the start.

After taking the junior men's category at the Peel Park Supacross, the Leeds City College computer science student admitted: "I have had a virus for the last three weeks and I came into the race expecting to do well but not being at my best.

"There were a few ruts 100 metres after the start which swung a few riders left and I went down straightaway as I had nowhere to go.

"I was then in the back-quarter of the race, but I have been in this situation before and played it cool."

Paul Milnes-Bradford Olympic member Houlihan added: "After half a lap I was fourth or fifth with a group of two other juniors but on lap number two, one of them, Dexter Leeming-Sykes' (PH Mas Paul Milnes) chain snapped and it was just me and Ethan Whiteside (East Bradford RT) going round as a pair.

"I got in front of him on lap two and Ethan is quite a technical rider so I thought if I got in front of him I can lead my own line as I am less technical, and then I could dictate the pace.

"I felt all right by the time I got to lap three. I wasn't coughing and my chest was fine so I thought I would give it some and managed to get away from Ethan, and after that I had about a minute on him and settled into a rhythm but didn't want to overdo it as I am still not right.

"I didn't lose any places but didn't gain any but I was expecting Peel Park to be a lot muddier.

"Last year and the year before they have been bogfests and it felt quite slick this time, with a few greasy corners and off-cambers but not much standing mud, which was good."

As for his missed entry into Sunday's National Championships, Houlihan admitted: "That is a funny one.

"I have had my virus and wasn't going to do it anyway, but after Peel Park I regret not entering it, although my head at the time was saying 'Don't race the nationals because you are not well'.

"The next Yorkshire Points Series race at Wath-on-Dearne on Sunday, January 19 will be my last 'cross' race of the season and then I will focus on the road season, which starts in March.

"I will be doing some tours with a new junior team, Team SB Hub, who are based in Colne, and we will go over to the track there once a week.

"There are eight riders in it, including Josh Clough from Keighley, and we are the only Yorkshiremen.

"I went away with the British Cycling's Yorkshire team to the Tour of Scotland last spring, which is the closest a youth team get to open-road racing and is a lot longer than a normal crit (criterium).

"It was an hour and a half on bigger hills, which suited me a lot more than an average crit in a town centre and I am expecting to do well but it is my first junior road season so I am going to take it with a pinch of salt."

Houlihan completed 10 laps, with Whiteside, from Ilkley, and Henry Hollyman (Otley CC), who both completed nine laps, making up an all Wharfe valley 1-2-3.

Ethan's younger sister Freya, who drew on her recent experience of competing in Belgium at Hamme, Diegnam and Bredenne, won the under-16 girls' race at Peel Park.

Ilkley Grammar School pupil Freya, 14, said: "It went pretty well, but I went backwards on the start line when my pedal went backwards but I managed to gain places.

"It was quite hard getting back to the front as there was a lot of running, which I like, and a lot of technical bits.

"On the second to last lap I was under quite a bit of pressure with people behind me, but I am hoping for top five, top three at the nationals."

Prince Henry's Grammar School pupil Bjorn Koerdt was second in the under-16 boys' race behind Oliver Akers (Garden Shed).

The 15-year-old from Bramhope said: "Ollie and Tom Scott (Trek Sheffield) made quite a fast start so I had to work quite hard to get up, and then it was just me and Tom racing together for second.

"Once I caught him I needed to get my breath back and relax a bit so the gap to Ollie grew.

"Tom and I were just testing each others' legs out and I came up with the decision to take it to the line but I got a bit lucky as Tom slipped on one of the corners on the last lap when he was right on my wheel and I made my move and put the power down.

"It was quite a technical course and it was a matter of not going too fast on some of the descents and risking slipping out.

"It wasn't as muddy as in previous years and I you could have some fun riding parts where you would normally have to run.

"I am hoping to win at the nationals. I have had a podium before this season (in the National Trophy) so I am hoping that I can top that."