The small Scottish Highland town of Fort William once again became the focal point of the Trials world yesterday as the 2014 edition of the Scottish Six Days Trial got underway with two hundred and eighty eight riders from all corners of the globe signed on to start the most famous event in the Trials calendar.
As is tradition in the SSDT, a Scotsman always has the privilege of being first rider away, and this year was no exception with Iain Shankie - Sherco, a man who works tirelessly for the sport, having the honour of carrying the number one plate and being seen off by SSDT organisers and local dignitaries at 7:30am.
The opening day of the 2014 SSDT appears to have held no real shocks for the riders this year with the notorious Scottish weather being relatively kind and only occasional showers marring an otherwise dry day.
At the head of the table after the first day of competition, the battle between the top names was as tense as expected with seven-times SSDT winner Dougie Lampkin, desperate to add an eighth win to his tally, fighting it out with twice winner James Dabill – Beta who is equally determined to earn his third victory and 2005 SSDT winner, Sam Connor - Beta. This leading trio all returned back the Fort William Parc Ferme at the end of the opening day of competition clean of any penalties.
Just behind the first day leaders, having dropped a single mark on their opening day lie 2010 SSDT winner Alexz Wigg – Gas Gas who always rides well in Scotland and can never be ruled out from repeating his previous win and Michael Brown – Gas Gas who does not appear to have been affected too much by the tendonitis problems in his wrist that he hasbeen suffering from recently. His concerns about how this might affect his SSDT performance, however, were more around the notorious moor crossings rather than it causing any problems in the sections. Although he has never yet lifted the prestigious North India Rubber Company Trophy, Michael is another rider who is more than capable of winning the event if luck remains on his side and his wrist does not cause any serious problems.
In the Ladies competition, Trials golden girl of the moment, Emma Bristow – Sherco took the early lead with a first day score of sixteen over the Isle of Wight’s Becky Cook – Beta whose score of thirty three leaves her with some catching up to do if she wants to lift the Jack Williams Trophy in five days time. In a particularly cruel blow, Spain’s Sandra Gomez – Ossa competed in an event in her homeland on Sunday then flew to Scotland, arriving at 2am Monday morning only to have to retire on the opening day of the competition following bike problems.
After changes last year, Tuesday’s route returns to that familiar to SSDT fans with favourites Laggan Locks, Forest Gate, Creag Lundie and an “all-new” Witches Burn ready and waiting to challenge the diehard competitors. We will be making the long run out to the ever-popular Creag Lundie and then taking in the action at Witches Burn on the return journey.
For Trials Central photo coverage from day one of the 2014 Scottish, click here
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