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Last Updated: Monday, 3 September 2007, 10:45 GMT 11:45 UK
Brussels bike ride gets political
Gordel participants
Many Belgians see the ride as good fun, despite political tensions
Thousands of Dutch-speaking Belgians have cycled around Brussels in a mass parade for Flemish nationalism.

Some 75,000 cyclists joined Sunday's "Gordel", (Dutch for "Belt"), according to the AFP news agency.

The Gordel is an annual event, but this year's came as Belgium is without a new government amid a split between Dutch- and French-speaking politicians.

Many wore yellow jerseys with the black lion of Dutch-speaking Flanders, where there is pressure for more autonomy.

Some acts of "sabotage" were reported - tacks and pins scattered on some cycle paths and street signs turned round to confuse riders.

Map of Belgium's main regions - Flanders and Wallonia
But the ride appears to have been generally good-natured, involving families and cycling enthusiasts.

Language rights are a hot political issue in the Brussels region.

The Belgian capital is predominantly Francophone but its outskirts belong to Dutch-speaking Flanders.

Belgium has been struggling to form a new coalition government since elections in June.

Yves Leterme, the centre-right Flemish leader tasked with building a coalition, stayed away from Sunday's cycle ride.

Country profile: Belgium
18 Jul 07 |  Country profiles

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