Are our socks on right?

The definitive answer to the sock debate

February 6, 2023

The UCI is already running checks.

Every morning, we pull up our socks and hope we’re not violating Article 1.3.033. Now, the fashion police are looking into our uniforms as well.

From the start, we set out to disrupt bike racing with Rapha and now know we’re not finished, because this year’s asymmetrical socks have knocked the pro-cycling design critics’ right off. There must be a left one and a right one!! Right? There’s even a Twitter account dedicated to our sock styling. Are they on right?

Last year, the critics might have been justified. By the third week of a grand tour, it was Borja the bus driver’s job to make sure that no bleary-eyed bike racer walked down his steps and into the glare of the TV cameras with an F on his left foot and an E on his right. We are, after all, EF Education-EasyPost. This year, Rapha saved him the trouble. Every one of our socks reads EF. Each pair just comes with one light pink and one bright pink sock. Which goes on the left foot and which on the right? There must be an answer.

Don’t ask the racers. Alberto Bettiol likes bright on the left and the light on the right, until he doesn’t. James Shaw tends to go bright-right and light-left, but is starting to wonder if he is doing it wrong after so much online discussion. Jonas Rutsch tried to look it up. Team CEO Jonathan Vaughters seems to have sided with the critics—light on the left and bright on the right. And JV isn’t just the boss; he is famous for his sartorial swagger. Jonas is going with JV.

To set matters straight, Jens Keukeleire decided to do some research. He is a bit old-school, and his theory was that the socks should match the shoulder patches on our jerseys, so light-left and bright-right; however, his aero socks were in fact colour coded the opposite with the lighter sock on the right and brighter one on the left. He concluded that the same must hold for his road socks. That was an authoritative argument, Tom Scully thought, until Sean Quinn told him he had debunked it. Sean noticed that the bright pink aero sock is in fact a different shade of pink to the road sock, so no law can be drawn from one to the other. It’s not binary. We’ve got socks in the three different pinks from our jerseys.

Maybe Łukasz Wiśniowski’s approach was as good as any all along. He leaves it to the weather. If it’s raining, he goes light-left and bright-right, and if it’s sunny he’ll wear bright-left and light-right.

Looking at race wins, so far this year, Neilson Powless went light-left, bright-right for his victory at the Grand Prix Cycliste de Marseille and his winning ride at the Étoile de Bessèges. So did Marijn van den Berg when he won the Trofeo ses Salines-Port d’Alcudia. And Alberto Bettiol wore the same when he won the prologue at the Tour Down Under. Esteban Chaves went light-left and bright-right for his win at Colombian nationals. We’re not superstitious, but…

To be sure, we asked Rapha designer Santi Roig Dinarès. He says, “For us, the design journey doesn’t stop once the kit has been produced. We want both riders and fans to interpret the kit in their own way and bring a little personal style to the bike. We want to give people the chance to express themselves in how they dress, all through a pair of socks.”

That settles it. There is no left or right, or there is, but every rider gets to decide for themself—and no one else—every morning when they pull up their socks.

Now we just have to worry about that other aesthetic rule: Article 1.3.033. Breaking that one costs Swiss francs.

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