Not every network has an audience so passionate that thousands will sign a petition demanding that programming be reinstated. That’s what Outdoor Life Network has been dealing with since it disclosed that it will not cover the Vuelta a Espa�a, one of professional cycling’s three grand tours along with the Tour de France and the Giro d’Italia. OLN has covered the Vuelta for the past three years, but this year it plans a one-hour wrap-up Oct. 27. The dissent started in late July, after OLN’s all-out coverage of the 2004 Tour de France. More than 16,000 signatures are included in an online petition demanding OLN resume daily live coverage of the Vuelta, a 21-stage race that began in Le�n, Spain, Sept. 4 and winds up in Madrid Sept. 26. "It’s great to see that kind of passion," says OLN president and CEO Gavin Harvey. "The alternative is terrible if people just don’t care about what you do." OLN couldn’t justify the financial investment in sending a huge crew to Spain to cover the race, due to the "microscopic" Nielsen ratings garnered by the 2003 Vuelta, Harvey says. "The fact is that people that like to watch logrolling turn out in greater numbers." New York Cycle Club member Carol Wood upgraded to Time Warner Cable digital specifically for OLN’s Tour de France coverage (and for continued access to TCM). "As an avid cyclist and newly converted fan of the sport, I would have watched the Vuelta with the same interest as the tour," she notes in an e-mail. "But if OLN is only going to show a recap, I won’t bother watching it." Spanish TV station TVEi, available on DirecTV and certain Hispanic cable tiers, is covering the race.

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