Winner of the Tour de France’s mountains classification, Franco Pellizotti will not start the Giro d’Italia on Saturday due to irregularities in his biological passport, according to the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) informed the 32-year-old Italian of team Liquigas-Doimo two months ago and now, it has asked the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to open up a disciplinary hearing.

Pellizotti finished third behind Russian Denis Menchov at last year’s Giro d’Italia, but claimed second later after controls revealed Italian Danilo Di Luca positive for Erythropoietin (EPO).   The UCI began following Pellizotti’s urine and blood controls closely since last year’s Tour de France.

The Italian sports newspaper said today that the UCI were examining at least five, maybe eight suspicious cases in total, including one Russian, two Spaniards, one Slovenian and two Italians.

Pellizotti is the first top rider the UCI has caught with its biological passport controls since last June, when it revealed irregular readings by five riders, including 2003 World Champion Igor Astarloa.

Pellizotti turned professional in 2001 with Alessio and joined Liquigas in 2005.   His last race was Saturday, when he placed third at the GP Larciano in Italy.

Italian Ivan Basso will now be Liquigas’ sole captain for the Giro d’Italia, May 8 to 30.    Italian Vincenzo Nibali will take Pellizotti’s place.

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