With no signs of a breakthrough in Belgium’s political crisis, thousands of the country’s Flemish majority have been taking part in their annual cycle-fest around Brussels – a traditional show of Flemish nationalism.
But Liberal Flemish leader, Yves Leterme, was only present on a banner carried by the extreme-right Vlaams Belang.
Following June’s elections, Leterme has tried and failed to build a coalition overcoming the linguistic divide between Flanders and Wallonia.
The figurehead for liberal Francophones is now Didier Reynders. As the cyclists hit the streets, his MDR party was holding its annual conference.
“There needs to be dialogue,” he said, “because we know that in the north of the country over recent months, if not years, a reform of the state is top of the agenda.
“When you are the main French-speaking political group, you cannot be afraid of dialogue, as long as you have strong convictions.”
Commentators believe Leterme could still become the country’s new prime minister, but he may need to win over Reynders.
Leterme won the popular vote in June. But French-speakers oppose his manifesto of devolving more power to regional governments, fearing Wallonia, which is economically far weaker than Flanders, will lose out.
The palace has brought in political heavyweights to try to break the deadlock.
If all else fails, King Albert II may have no choice but to ask Belgians to return to the ballot box.