London: Britain basked in the glory of Bradley Wiggins' historic triumph in cycling's Tour de France on Monday and looked ahead with relish to more sporting success at the Olympics, boosting the nation's hopes after a troubled buildup to the 2012 Games.

But in a reminder of logistical challenges facing London as it prepared to stage the greatest show on earth, commuters using the ageing metro system reported major delays and transport union RMT called for fresh, albeit limited, industrial action.

Olympic chief Jacques Rogge took to the airwaves to reassure the 11 million ticket-holders that the July 27-Aug. 12 Games would be safe, after the failure of private security firm G4S to provide enough guards provoked heated debate among politicians and in the media in Europe.    

Thousands of extra soldiers were recruited to fill the gap at an event where security concerns are particularly high - 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich attack by Palestinian militants that killed 11 Israeli Olympic team members.

"We're very confident that security will be very, very good," Rogge told BBC television.

"I believe we have to move on. The problem has been identified, the problem has been addressed in a good way," added the president of the International Olympic Committee.

"Is it a shambles? I'm not (going to) make a comment. What I'm interested (in) is, is the security arrangement OK and it is OK. We're not going to enter any blame game, we're not going to point fingers because this is useless."

More than 16,000 athletes from 204 nations will contest medals across Britain at the Games, bringing the thrill of victory and despair of defeat to millions of onlookers and billions more watching on television and the internet around the world.

Sun, Success

The signs on Monday were that, after an overwhelmingly negative buildup to the Olympics by Britain's notoriously caustic media, the feel-good factor had arrived at last.

Even the weather has improved - the sprawling Olympic Park in a once poor quarter of east London where many medals will be contested across myriad venues basked in uninterrupted sunshine on Monday following an unseasonably wet June and early July.

Newspaper front pages and radio and television programmes were full of Wiggins' Tour de France win, the first British victory in what is billed as the world's most prestigious race.

And with fellow Briton Mark Cavendish sprinting to the stage win along the Champs Elysees in Paris, attention turned to their chances of winning home cycling golds at the Games.

"That was the yellow, now for the gold," wrote chief sports writer Simon Barnes in The Times newspaper.

Cavendish, who will contest one of the first medal events at the London Games on Saturday, the day after the opening ceremony, was in equally bullish mood.

"I'm very ready for the Olympics now," he said after his stage win in Paris. "We're going to have an incredibly strong team and we're not just going to the Games to see how it goes."

Some bookmakers have gone so far as to suggest Britain could break the "golden triangle" of Olympic medal winners this year, having come fourth in Beijing in 2008 behind the Chinese, Americans and Russians.

On Monday, the Olympic torch made its way around the capital and will complete its journey on Friday evening when the cauldron is lit, symbolising the start to the Games at the ceremony which is expected to be a more intimate affair than the Beijing extravaganza.

That promises to be a "wow moment", British Olympic Association (BOA) chief executive Andy Hunt said at the weekend, with the identity of the privileged role of lighter and even the location of the cauldron still a closely-guarded secret.

Transport Woes

The torch, in the final stages of an 8,000-mile odyssey, visits Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for stray animals on Monday, carried by soccer striker Michael Owen, who was once in the England squad.

In the afternoon the torch goes on to Wimbledon where Andy Murray, this year's men's runner-up at the grand slam event, will carry it on to Centre Court and hand it to former women's Olympic tennis champion Venus Williams of the United States.

With four days to go until the opening ceremony, transport disruptions across London were a reminder that there were still significant threats to a smooth run-in.

Severe delays hit three of the main rail links to the Olympic Park on Monday morning and labour union RMT announced industrial action by staff in some parts of the city's old and often creaking transport system to coincide with the Games.

Problems on the underground Central and Jubilee Lines were compounded by delays on a key overground link, and passengers rolled their eyes in disbelief at announcements explaining the reasons for their woes.

"This is going to be brilliant for the Olympics," said one passenger on the crowded but at least functioning Northern Line, to laughter from travellers packed into carriages like sardines.


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