The opening day of the 2019 Scottish Six Days Trial saw rider number 1, Catalan veteran Carlos Casas (Vertigo) leave the Fort William start at 7.30am with the remainder of the 283 contenders following at one minute intervals. Thankfully the weather remained fine and dry, give or take the odd snow flurry for the 71 mile course taking in 30 observed sections spread over ten separate groups.
And at the end of the day as the field cleared the final group at Lagnaha, there were just two riders still boasting a clean sheet - last year's runner-up James Dabill (Beta), seeking a third SSDT victory and Welsh ace Iwan Roberts (TRS) who has set himself up perfectly for a podium placing.
The first sections of the week were two at Coire na Cloice, just three miles from the start followed by the first big spectator group, four sections over the large boulders in the dry riverbed at Leanachan where hot favourite to win his 13th Scottish, Dougie Lampkin (Vertigo) lost his first mark of the week in the final sub of the group.
Doug soon got over the shock and steadied the ship to complete the rest of the day without further loss of marks to sit right behind the joint leaders on just one mark. He was joined in that feat by the Gas Gas duo of Jack Price and Michael Brown with both losing their single marks in the Blackwater group out on the moors above Kinlochleven. Jack dropped his mark in section fourteen, the first of the group and Michael at seventeen, the last of the four subs.
Ross Danby (TRRS) and Richard Sadler (Gas Gas) were next in line on two marks, both dropped relatively early in the day before they settled down to clocking up the clean rides. Dan Peace (Sherco) was unlucky as having been on zero marks all day he was scored a five in the final group, the big spectator draw at Lagnaha, with just three sections to go. A total of twenty five riders kept their daily score in single figures, the last of which was Beta mounted Dec Bullock on nine marks.
Sherco factory rider Emma Bristow enjoyed a brilliant opening day and held 26th overall on just ten marks which gave her a huge lead in the Female class from Jess Bown (Scorpa) on forty two and Katy Sunter (Gas Gas) on forty six.
In the Newcomers it was Frenchman Benoit Dagnicourt (Vertigo) on five marks from Italian Filippo Locca (Beta) on eleven and a strong ride from English youngster Oliver Smith (Gas Gas) left him on twenty four at the end of the first day.
With Gary MacDonald not riding this year the Best Scottish rider award is wide open and young Joe Dawson (TRRS) threw his hat in the ring on twelve followed by similarly mounted Calum Murphy on sixteen and Sherco mounted Gareth Palmer twenty eight. Early favourite, Andrew Anderson (Scorpa) sits one further mark adrift on twenty nine.
In the all-star Over-40 class Dougie Lampkin led on one followed by his cousin Ben Hemingway who dropped five on the Beta four-stroke with Montesa mounted Spanish veteran Amos Bilbao on just six.
Coming up tomorrow, Tuesday's route is the longest and toughest of the week with a total mileage of 107, beginning with a 24 mile road ride to Laggan Locks, moving mainly off-road to the day's spectator favourite group Creag Lundie before heading back through Clunes forest to the final section of the day, the imposing rock slab at Witches Burn.
Images courtesy of trialscentral.com and Trials UK Media