The Finish Line

Destiny and drama at the Tour of Walla Walla

click to enlarge Alejandro Borrajo at the finidh line in Walla Walla. David Richter, at right, in black. - CATHERINE LEIGH COOPER
Catherine Leigh Cooper
Alejandro Borrajo at the finidh line in Walla Walla. David Richter, at right, in black.

The announcer’s voice rattled the speakers as the racers finally swung into view, hurtling down missile-straight Main Street, not even looking up to see the finish line. The crowd leaned in to watch. The riders’ heads bobbed, their muscles throbbed. And in the last 100 feet, it was Alejandro Borrajo who pulled away from the hordes, and who — when victory seemed clear, just 10 yards from the line, still sailing over 40 miles per hour — threw his arms up in sweet denouement.

No surprise there. Borrajo, 31, is one of the fastest sprinters among the echelon of pro riders from around the world who rolled into southeastern Washington for last month’s Tour of Walla Walla.

But the race wasn’t finished yet. David Richter, too, had had his eye on today’s event. Though he’s 41, and he’d technically been retired for three years, he liked the look of the 55-minute downtown circuit.

When half the pack went down in a dramatic crash in the last lap, and he managed to escape the carnage, he knew he had a chance. On the final straightaway, he shifted into his biggest gear, tucked in behind Borrajo, went great guns.

And when Borrajo sat up and raised his arms, and everybody watching thought that destiny had been fulfilled, Richter recalls thinking: “Well, I definitely got him now.”

Richter used the last 10 yards to squirt to the outside, around to Borrajo’s left. He beat the young sprinter by a matter of inches.

Borrajo’s hands went to his helmet. A woman standing near the finish line spun around, covering her mouth, her eyebrows bent to breaking, as Richter swished past in a blur of black Lycra, pumping his fist for what must have been a mile of Walla Walla blacktop.

Photo above from Cycling Lens

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About The Author

Joel Smith is the media editor for The Inlander. In that position, he manages and directs Inlander.com and edits all copy for the website, the newspaper and all other special publications. A former staff writer, he has reported on local and state politics, the environment, urban development and culture, Spokane's...