Olympic test race goes forward despite London violence

Olympic Games organizers say they will hold a road racing test event a scheduled Sunday despite growing violence in London suburbs.

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Olympic Games organizers say they will hold a road racing test event as scheduled Sunday, despite growing violence in London suburbs.

Riots have raged in northern London suburbs since Saturday and spread to east London on Monday, prompting the cancelation of some soccer matches this weekend. But Olympic Games organizers confirmed that Sunday’s road race will be held as planned.

“Olympic test events are currently going ahead as planned,” officials from the London Olympic Organizing Committee said Wednesday. Calls made by VeloNews on Thursday were not returned.

Mark Cavendish, Tyler Farrar and other top sprinters are scheduled to participate in the 140km race to be held on portions of the road race circuit featured in next summer’s Olympic Games.

The so-called “test event” is an important dress rehearsal to allow local organizers a chance to conduct a live event in venues destined to host Olympic competition next summer.

The race starts and finishes on The Mall in central London, but the circuit course rides southwest out of London, and avoids the riots-plagued area near Tottenham in northern greater London and Hackney in east London.

Some wondered if the event might be postponed or rescheduled with the riots continuing to escalate across northern London. Police and other authorities are pouring into the trouble spots to try to re-establish public order, but officials said there will be enough police and road marshals to ensure a safe and orderly race for the athletes.

“Obviously we are monitoring events closely, but at the moment, everything is set to take place as planned,” officials told The Daily Telegraph. “We are aware that the race event is a challenging event on a number of fronts, with a large number of road closures, widespread free public access and significant numbers of police officers as well as volunteers and LOCOG staff required to ensure its smooth running.”

Sunday’s 140km race — called the London-Surrey Cycle Classic — starts and ends on The Mall and winds through southwest London before tackling a circuit into Surrey, with two passages over Box Hill. The race is scheduled to start at 9 a.m. and is expected to conclude at about 12:15 p.m.

The event is a dress rehearsal for next summer’s road cycling events, when the men will race 240km and the women 130km, with events scheduled on July 28-29.

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