Random UCI sock length tests at Tour finishes to catch mid-stage cheaters

Posted on: July 9th, 2019

UCI sock length checks: The checking of cyclists’ sock lengths is now happening at the finishes of Tour de France stages as well as at the start.

The UCI has added random end of stage sock length checks to the Tour de France to bolster the checks they have been carrying out before stages.

Pulling riders for measuring their sock and overshoe lengths at the end of stages appears to be designed to assure riders checked before stages won’t then slip on longer socks to gain an advantage.

Nicolas Roche has been writing about the issue in his Tour Diary today in the Irish Independent.

A photo of a UCI official checking one of the Team Sunweb riders pre-stage has been shared heavily on social media.

However, Roche has now revealed that after-stage checks have also been introduced, though he told stickybottle he had not been targeted yet.

“These checks have been going on all year, but because it’s the Tour de France I think it’s the first time the general public have noticed it,” he said.

“There is actually a rule about sock length in the UCI handbook that basically says they can’t go higher than halfway between your ankle and your knee.

“The rule has been there a while, but this is the first year they’ve actually enforced it.

“And, in their wisdom, the UCI have even come up with an expandable plastic sock measuring contraption to keep us all in check.

“In the event that somebody might get past the rule by pulling their socks down a little bit before they’re measured, they even have random checks at the finish.

“It’s ridiculous. Our sport definitely has more important issues than sock height.”

The UCI’s guide to how far up your leg you can wear socks or aero overshoes

Lance Armstrong also revealed in a recent podcast that he believed the rule to limit sock height was initially aimed at ensuring he could not wear compression socks at the Tour during his racing days.

He said when his team tested compression socks after seeing British long distance runner Paul Ratcliffe using them, they concluded the body was more efficient at pumping blood back to the heart in riders wearing the socks.

He explained that around the same time he had turned up for lunch with the then Tour de France director Jean Marie Le Blanc while wearing compression socks.

When Le Blanc asked him what he was wearing, Armstrong said he explained the team had been trialling compression socks and planned to wear them at the Tour de France.

However, Armstrong said Le Blanc was horrified and very soon afterwards the UCI issued a rule about sock height.

He believed Le Blanc had gone to the UCI and relayed their conversation, with the new rule – the first of its kind relating to socks – being introduced as a direct result.