Today, when Australia celebrates and honours its first-ever Tour de France champion, one can briefly forget a continent away in Great Britain where there’s been a celebration of a very different kind: a celebration of anarchy.So on Sunday, when a 2012 Olympic test event gets underway in the form of a cycling road race, just remember there is far more at stake than who finishes first, writes Anthony Tan.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM


"There is a sickness within British society"
- British Prime Minister David Cameron

It's hard not to be completely caught up in Cadel-mania right now, as the first Australian Tour de France champion begins his whirlwind homecoming tour that will last just all of three days.

Midday today at Melbourne's Federation Square, where he will be officially celebrated, the scene will, undoubtedly and deservedly so, be riotous.

A continent away in another Anglophone land where many of our forefathers have come from, riots have already been going on for the best part of a week, but for reasons completely different.

We know only that the catalyst for the UK riots stemmed from a man being shot dead by police in north London the previous Thursday. As to why the debauchery has lasted this long or involved so many, sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, psychiatrists, police and politicians have been speculating ever since.

What's this got to do with sport and cycling?

Well, at 9 a.m. this Sunday at the London Mall, a 2012 Olympic test event has been scheduled, in the form of a 140-kilometre road cycling race. Tour de France maillot vert and 20-time stage winner, Mark Cavendish, is expected to be on the start line, as are Australians Stuart O'Grady, Heinrich Haussler, Matthew Goss, Leigh Howard and Michael Matthews.

Wednesday night, in a snap poll on Twitter, I asked: "Should the test event for the London 2012 cycling road race go ahead this Sunday - Y or N?"

72% answered 'yes'; 28% of you said 'no'. A few comments that went with the answers:

@Andymcgra Yes. Constantly changing situation though; luckily there was a thaw in rioting last night in London

@chrisgraetz Yes. If you stop for those bogans, then they win. Best to carry on as normal as if they don't matter.

@SJR1978 yes but only on Boris bikes.

@santokiii Y no rioting in SW London or during the day. Mostly media hype...

* * *

My friend and colleague at The Telegraph, Brendan Gallagher, reported on Tuesday that the test event is still scheduled to go ahead, with a London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games spokesperson saying: "Obviously we are monitoring events closely but at the moment everything is set to take place as planned."

With so many road closures already in place and constabulary on guard, one could argue, tongue-in-cheek, the scene is already set for a bike race through the councils of London Borough and Surrey County, where the parcours shall weave its way through.

A total 365 closures on the out-and-back loop, starting 4 a.m. Sunday, will be required.
Roadside security will be augmented by an en-route police presence; "a specialist motorbike division consisting of 28 highly trained police outriders will accompany the race," said the Telegraph report.

Under the current strained socio-economic milieu, there's no doubt the success – or failure – of this Sunday's road race, will have wider implications on the British capital's capacity to carry out the Games of what will be the 30th Olympiad.

Because without being a scaremonger, who's to say 12 months from now, it won't happen again?

In 12 months from now, when the well-heeled come to London to watch the Games live, will the hordes of disenfranchised youth we've seen this week be any less angry or resentful – particularly those who have been locked up?

In 12 months from now, will the ailing European economy that Great Britain is obviously a part of be feeling any better?

To use Prime Minister Cameron's quote above, will British society in general, 12 months from now, be cured, for those deemed or diagnosed 'sick'?

Quite clearly, there's more than just a cycling race at stake this Sunday.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_tan