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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright 2001 AFP
A local politician in Italy’s southern province of Puglia has made a formal protest to the government and the organizers of the Giro d’Italia over what he sees as an exclusion of the south of Italy in next year’s race.
The 2002 Giro will take in five European countries outside Italy (Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, France and Germany) in honor of the advent of the Euro but its southernmost point will be at Benevento near Naples in the Catania province.
That means the country’s four southernmost provinces – Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria and Sicily – will all be excluded.
“It is impossible and unjust that an event like the Giro d’Italia stops at Benevento, excluding the south,” said Michele Saccomanno, environmental chief of the Puglia region on the “heel” of the boot-shaped Italian peninsula.
Saccomanno drew a parallel with the policies of the Northern League – a junior partner in the center-right administration of Italy’s prime minister Silvio Berlusconi which wants to see the wealthy north develop links with Europe and loosen its ties with the less developed south.
“It is even more a matter of concern that the exclusion of the south is coinciding with the start of real European unity,” explained Saccomanno.
“From a southerner’s point of view the presence of the Giro here will help overcome the doubts of those who fear or who are unimpressed by the League’s devolution policies. The north of Italy or Milan never gets left out.”