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Cyclists on solar-powered bikes set off on a 10,000-km tour of Europe

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By Christopher Pitchers
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Cyclists on solar-powered bikes set off on a 10,000-km tour of Europe
Copyright  Xavier Lejeune/European Union 2021
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A cycling tour that consists solely of solar-powered and self-constructed bikes kicked off in Brussels on Wednesday, with the aim of raising awareness of the need for increased sustainable mobility.

Sun Trip Europe 2021 -- as the three-month journey is named -- started from the Belgian capital, after having previously begun its pre-tour leg in the French city of Lyon earlier this month.

Fifty participants are taking place in the event, with what the organisers say is an "ecological message accessible to all".

The so-called "ambassadors of sustainable and alternative mobility" will travel 10,000 km without assistance and in total energy autonomy.

The cyclists involved and solar-powered bike constructors will travel across Europe, stopping in Latvia, Romania, Italy, Spain and finishing in Lyon.

If the bike breaks down in the middle of nowhere, then finding a solution is up to the rider.

Dirk Huyghe, one of the participants, told Euronews that it is a tough journey, but it's exactly what he and the others love.

"I like to do this because it's a big adventure and you are totally independent because we have our solar energy with us. We don't need to charge [the bikes] on the electrical [grid] because we have everything with us," Huyghe explained.

"When you want in the evening to camp in the wild it's possible. All the time you can charge your battery [using the sun]. So, it's the ecological principle that's very interesting for me."

European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans, who welcomed the cyclists in Brussels before they set off, told Euronews that Sun Trip Europe is the perfect initiative to demonstrate the future of sustainable mobility.

"Electric bikes are a revolution because they've made cycling accessible to absolutely everyone - handicapped people, older people, people who are not in great shape. They can all get on an electric bike and get around and you see it everywhere. I think really it's hugely important," Timmermans said.

"But of course, the more you can have this electricity generated in a sustainable way the better it is. So, these examples of solar power show us the way ahead. We will need more electricity, but the electricity needs to be sustainable. It needs to be generated in a sustainable way."