SAN DIEGO — Jack van der Veen, who calls himself a recovered bookworm, couldn't wait to turn 30. And his two performances during this weekend's Masters World Cup of cycling demonstrated why.
On Saturday, van der Veen placed second--"within a wheel of first place"--in the criterium for senior I and II riders, the top classes in the sport.
It was the weekend's only nonmasters race and van der Veen proved to be among the very best.
Van der Veen, who turned 30 in April, Sunday entered the Open criterium for all master riders age 30 and older.
Masters' races are not as hotly contested as the Senior I, II races, but as van der Veen pointed out, "most of the same guys in the masters races also race Senior I, II."
Among master riders, van der Veen proved to be the best.
Van der Veen not only took first in the 35-lap race around a .7-mile loop in the parking lot of the Town and Country Hotel, but beat the field by eight seconds.
"This was my first masters race ever," van der Veen said afterward, gloating about his advancing age. "I've been looking forward to turning 30 for the past couple years."
The victory was worth $1,200--not bad for a guy who makes a living off the sport.
Van der Veen, a native of Belgium who has lived in Southern California the past 24 years, did it without the aid of teammates. While several members of the Subaru and Gatorade teams were there to block for each other, van der Veen was the only Shaklee team member on the course.
That actually worked to his advantage in the early stages of the 35-lap race as he allowed the teams to keep reeling in early break-away riders. Van der Veen merely hung back between sixth and eighth place and drafted off the leaders.
After 28 laps van der Veen decided to make his move and sprinted off the front of the pack.
At first van der Veen worried about being out on his own. He could maintain a margin of only eight seconds, not enough of a gap if anyone in the chase pack still had something left.
"Once I got out there I was hoping there wouldn't be anybody left who would sacrifice himself to let the pack catch me," he said. "I wouldn't have been able to hold on in a sprint."