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Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Monday, 3 May 2010 19:36 UK

Cycling rocked by new doping probe

Franco Pellizotti
Pellizotti was the King of the Mountains in last year's Tour de France

The 2009 Giro d'Italia runner-up Franco Pellizotti is one of three cyclists facing a doping investigation from the sport's governing body.

The Giro d'Italia starts in Amsterdam this Saturday, but the 32-year-old Liquigas rider will now miss the prestigious three-week race.

Pellizotti also won the 2009 Tour de France's King of the Mountains jersey.

Spain's Jesus Rosendo Prado and Tadej Valjavec of Slovenia are the two other riders facing disciplinary action.

Valjavec finished 10th in the 2008 Tour de France.

"Disciplinary procedures have been requested against the riders for apparent violation of the anti-doping rules on the basis of the information provided by the blood profiles in their biological passports," the International Cycling Union said in a statement.

Pellizotti will appear before the Italian Olympic Committee's (Coni) anti-doping prosecutor on 17 May.

Since January 2008, the UCI has collected riders' blood samples to create a medical profile to be compared with doping test data.

The riders' alleged doping violation followed a UCI test on the eve of last year's Tour de France.

Pellizotti finished third in the 2009 Giro but was promoted to second after original runner-up Danilo di Luca was suspended for two years after testing positive for the banned blood booster Cera during the race.

Top riders Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong have opted not to compete in this year's Giro.

The Giro is one of road cycling's three major Grand Tour events alongside the Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana and Pellizotti had been expected to be a strong contender for this year's race.

When the race starts this weekend, Britain's Bradley Wiggins will head a nine-man Team Sky squad for their Grand Tour debut.

The triple Olympic champion is among three Britons, together with Steve Cummings and Chris Froome, in the Sky team for the 21-stage race, which begins in Amsterdam on 8 May and ends in Verona on 30 May.

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see also
Contador seals 2009 Tour victory
26 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Italian Di Luca fails doping test
22 Jul 09 |  Cycling
Pellizotti secures Giro stage win
27 May 09 |  Cycling
Pellizotti takes lead from Millar
13 Mar 07 |  Cycling
Pellizotti takes 10th Giro stage
16 May 06 |  Cycling

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