It was a scenario that a television audience could only dream of — three of the world’s best cyclists, sprinting neck-in-neck with each other, screaming toward a photo finish.
The third stage of the Amgen Tour of California was playing out perfectly for viewers of the Versus network, except for one minor detail — no one got to see the finish.
With just over one mile to go in a stirring three-man battle between Levi Leipheimer, David Zabriskie and Michael Rogers, Versus abruptly cut off its coverage of the Tour to pick up the second game of the NHL Eastern Conference finals pitting the Montreal Canadiens against the Philadelphia Flyers.
While the Versus viewers were watching the two NHL teams warm up, they were missing out on a dramatic finish punctuated by Zabriskie capturing his first ever stage win in the Amgen Tour.
It was the second straight day the network ran into trouble broadcasting the Amgen Tour. On Monday, inclement weather prevented aerial coverage of the race, forcing Versus to run a repeat of the Stage 1 event held on Sunday.
Tuesday’s network glitch evoked memories of the famous Heidi Game — a 1968 NFL contest between the New York Jets and the Raiders that was interrupted with minutes to go so NBC could air a made-for-TV version of the children’s story. The Raiders stormed back to an improbable victory while viewers watched Heidi, unaware of the coinciding drama.