DeFeet at the Tour: 30 Years of Passion, Process and Discovery


As the 81st edition of the Tour de France kicked off on July 2nd, 1994, no one observing the race noticed anything particularly unusual. The bikes, the riders, the team cars, everything appeared to be similar to when the pre-Tour preparation races had finished up in the previous few weeks. As the last rider crossed the finish line in the 7.2km prologue time trial, the time clock declared Chris Boardman of Team GAN the winner. 

While Boardman took the stage at the ceremony to show off his new yellow jersey, the crowd fixated on the golden fleece, podium girls and stuffed animals. On Boardman’s feet, however, were a quiet new entrant to the Tour de France. The newest, most unknown brand name at the Tour had taken part in its first ever stage start resulting, miraculously, in its first yellow jersey. 1 for 1. The brand was DeFeet, and the sock was the Aireator from the DeFeet Custom Shop. 

Over the past 30 years DeFeet has not missed a Tour de France. There have been so many more triumphs and tragedies. Here we share some of the notable exploits DeFeet has been a part of at “La Grande Boucle”, the Tour de France.

By 1998, DeFeet had stepped into the role of the leader in cycling socks. With a World Road Race championship and many one day classic wins in the bag, DeFeet had a physical presence at the ‘98 Tour with Hope and Shane Cooper spending some stages in team cars in the Tour caravan. 

Bobby Julich wore his DeFeet socks and UnD Shurt baselayer onto the overall General Classification podium and even wore a pair of stars & stripes on July 4th. 

Hope and Shane Cooper from DeFeet at the '98 Tour de France.

Kodachrome memories.

The initial Team GAN custom order, personalized with each rider's name on the foot bottom and destined for the Maillot Jaune.

Through the late 90’s and early 2000’s, the DeFeet Custom Shop rose to prominence at the Tour. So many riders were wearing DeFeet custom knit products branded without the DeFeet logo. There was a lot of success, and it was during this time DeFeet did cement what would become a 20+ year partnership with Quickstep. 

Tom Boonen, always in the hunt for stage wins, took the Green Jersey in 2007. Boonen created his own custom sock designs with the DeFeet Custom Shop. 

While Quickstep wore DeFeet to an unequaled number of classic wins and World Championships, their exploits at the Tour de France were numerous. In 2018, DeFeet showed up at the Tour in person to hand off a top secret, newly developed aerodynamic sock, the Disruptor. 

Once again, on stage one of the Tour and the first time the product was used in the pro peloton, Fernando Gaviria wore DeFeet en route to the stage win and the yellow jersey. It was a historic combination, and the new DeFeet aerodynamic socks did not stop there. 

As the race wore on, Quickstep’s Julian Alaphillippe launched bold, solo breakaways in his DeFeet Disruptor socks. He took stages 10 and 16, eventually winning the polka dot jersey for best climber at the end of the Tour. 

In 2019 Quickstep and Alaphillippe roared back at the Tour. DeFeet supplied two sock models to the team, introducing yet another new model, the Mont Ventoux. The Mont Ventoux was made for the mountains and the heat of Summer, and Quickstep embraced it wholeheartedly. 

Alaphillippe’s aggression was on display as he stomped into the yellow jersey for eight days. All of France was transfixed on the Tour as the hopes for a French win stayed alive. The 2019 Tour was indelibly stamped by Alaphillippe. His performances arguably remain the most memorable of the Tour that year. 

Nothing lasts forever. As DeFeet’s partnership with Quickstep drew to a close, another began. Team Lotto of Belgium holds the longest standing pro team sponsorship in cycling, and they asked to bring DeFeet into the fold. Contemplating the offer, DeFeet decided to move forward with Lotto. The decision was based on what DeFeet has always viewed as the most important aspect of a Pro Tour association, which is testing and feedback loops in product development and ideation. 

Over the first two years of the Lotto DSTNY partnership, DeFeet embarked on the most significant and refined sock design in it’s 30+ year history. This is the EVO Jet sock, the most aerodynamic sock DeFeet has ever tested in third-party testing environments. 

In the 2023 Tour de France, Lotto throttled the front of the Tour. While the team did not have a top 5 GC contender, it has attacked the Tour with a courage and vigor that any program would be proud of. Victor Campanaerts powerful, long breakaways earned him the most aggressive rider at the Tour award and very nearly won him at least one stage. 

The history of DeFeet at the Tour de France now spans more than 30 years. What will the future bring? One thing is certain: The Tour de France and DeFeet are forever intertwined. The Tour holds such an important piece of the DeFeet story, from new products being launched directly into the yellow jersey to countless, anonymous stages where quiet struggles led to discoveries that propelled DeFeet design toward years of process and innovation.