Sock height rules will be enforced by UCI in 2019

The UCI still has time for the little things…

These are well within the limit
(Image credit: Watson)

The UCI has reintroduced sock height rules for the 2019 season.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the new cycling season in January, the governing body is firming up its regulations for the next year.

Changes for 2019 include a revamp of team time trials, a new world ranking system and now a maximum sock height.

>>> 12 changes to UCI rules and regulations you need to know before the 2019 season

While teams are folding, riders are battling for pay, and the women’s peloton is pushing for increased professionalisation of the sport, the UCI is making it clear it still has time for the small details.

Here’s what the sock rules say: “Socks and overshoes used in competition may not rise above the height defined by half the distance between the middle of the lateral malleolus and the middle of the fibula head.”


Well don’t worry, the UCI has also provided a handy illustration to ensure teams don’t find themselves stepping over the line.

The UCI's very handy sock height guide (Picture: UCI)

In short, the sock must not breach the halfway mark between the ankle and the bottom of the knee.

But the UCI has not specified how the rule will be enforced, or what the punishment will be.

The UCI seems keen to crack down on teams using clothing for marginal gains (without actually mentioning Team Sky), rather than for the purposes of safety or modesty.

New rules also say clothing cannot change the ‘morphology’ (shape) of a rider and bans any non-essential clothing or device other than for protection.

Changes to this rule effectively clarify existing rules from 2018 about clothes not being adapted for any purpose other than clothing or safety.

The 2019 rules say that changes to clothing surface are allowed, but only by assembling the fabric, by weaving or by threading.

Surface roughness of clothing must not exceed 1mm at most and items must not contain any self-supporting elements or rigid parts.

The UCI had previously regulated sock height but that rule had disappeared from the books in recent years.

The organisation has not set a minimum length, which means some riders will be allowed to a commit fashion crime of the worst order - wearing socks that are too short.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.