Despite a stellar performance in winning the mountains jersey in Paris-Nice, Lhotellerie barely raced since then, pulling out of the Criterium International at the end of March and only returning this week for the Four Days of Dunkirk, where he is currently lying second overall. He denied that his absence had anything to do with falling foul of the anti-doping authorities.
"The fact that I didn't race for five weeks was simply because of knee tendonitis, and not because I was suspended by the UCI during that period," he told L'Equipe. "I first heard a rumour that I had been suspended for fifteen days by the French Cycling Federation. This is totally false!"
The French federation confirmed that there were no proceedings against Lhotellerie.
"Next, there was a second rumour in Holland, surely started by people who bear a grudge against my team but not especially against me, saying that I was one of the 23 riders targeted by the UCI as part of the biological passport. This is also false for the very good reason that I have not undergone any tests directly linked to this passport since the start of the year. Besides, my team asked the UCI, who replied that there was no problem concerning me."
The UCI spokesman assured AFP that the list of riders with abnormal values was and would remain confidential. "The list of targeted riders has not and will not be communicated to the teams and, obviously, the media," said Enrico Carpani. "A targeted rider is not necessarily a suspect rider," he continued, explaining that the anomalies could well have natural causes for some riders.