Marion Rousse has been appointed as director of the first women's Tour de France ©Getty Images

Former French cycling champion Marion Rousse has been appointed as the director of the first women’s Tour de France, set to launch next year.

The 40-year-old is due to announce the eight stages of the race that will form the historic event that is due to start in Paris on the Champs-Elysées on July 24, alongside the final stage of the 2022 men’s Tour de France, and finish on July 31.

Rousse’s appointment has been confirmed by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), organiser of the race, which will be sponsored by Zwift.

The unveiling of the race details is due to be made Palais des Congrès in Paris on Thursday (October 14).

"When I was a little girl, I watched the Tour de France on television with admiration, and when I started my career, I suspected that I would never have the opportunity to race in it," said Rousse.

"So, of course, I was very proud to be asked to take charge of the Tour de France Femmes avec Zwift, especially because we want to do our utmost to make it a dream for little girls to participate.

"Women's cycling has come a long way in recent years, partly thanks to ASO, but it still lacked a reference stage race with real media coverage.

"Now that I have accepted this mission, I intend to invest myself so that it becomes a ritual among the public... and for a long time because this is not about launching a race for two or three editions."

Marion Rousse is a former French cycling champion ©Getty Images
Marion Rousse is a former French cycling champion ©Getty Images

Rousse retired from cycling in 2015 and has since worked as a pundit for Eurosport and France Télévisions.

Since 2019 she has also taken part in race organisation as the deputy director of the Tour de la Provence.

ASO's marquee men's Tour de France has thrived for more than 100 years, but the organisation had been repeatedly criticised for not offering an official women's Tour de France.

La Course by La Tour de France was created in 2014 following a petition to ASO calling for a women's Tour de France and mostly been staged as a one-day event.

Next year’s stage race is seen as a significant step forward.

ASO promises the race will adopt the same codes, values and symbols as the men’s race.

"If the event is to become the premier race for women's cycling, it was obvious to call on the best ambassador of this sport, known and appreciated by the general public as well as the experts," Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, said.

"And her immediate enthusiasm to join us confirms the momentum behind the creation of the event."