Giro d'Italia Donne champion Annemiek van Vleuten is the favourite to clinch the first-ever Tour de France Femmes title ©Getty Images

Tour de France Femmes race director Marion Rousse has described the staging of the inaugural women’s event as a "symbolic" moment for cycling and hopes it will be around for the next 100 years.

The eight-stage race is poised to start in Paris tomorrow - the same day the men’s Tour de France draws to a close on the Champs-Elysées.

"For this first edition it was really important to us to leave Paris the day the men arrive, it's very symbolic," Rousse told AFP.

"The objective was to allow the general public to know as many riders as possible, to put a name to a face, to make women's cycling on TV not a curiosity but normality."

A total of 144 riders from 24 teams are set to compete in the first-ever Tour de France Femmes, scheduled to be held from tomorrow until July 31.

The first of the eight stages will see competitors start at the Eiffel Tower before finishing the 81.7 kilometres route on the Champs-Elysées.

The 1,029km race is made up of stages in the Vosges mountains with the finish situated at the La Planche des Belles Filles.

Among the favourites for the title include Dutch rider Annemiek van Vleuten of Team Movistar who was recently crowned champion of the Giro d'Italia Donne.

The 39-year-old is expected to face competition from the likes of compatriot Demi Vollering of SD Worx, Italians Elisa Longo Borghini of Trek-Segafredo and Marta Cavalli of FDJ-SUEZ-Futuroscope and Poland's Katarzyna Niewiadoma of Canyon-Sram.

"We want female role models," Rousse told DW.

"With the new Tour de France Femmes, it will become more normal to see women on road bikes and racing.

"During my time, unfortunately, it wasn't."

The men’s Tour de France has thrived for more than 100 years, but race organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) has long been criticised for not offering an official women’s edition.

La Course by Le Tour de France was created in 2014 following a petition to ASO calling for a women's Tour de France, but it has only been a one or two-day race.

The winner of this year’s Tour de France Femmes is expected to receive €50,000 (£42,500/$51,000) which is significantly lower than the €505,000 (£430,000/$515,000) in prize money that the men’s champion will pick up.

"The important question for our sport is ‘How can we make sure that salaries go up?," said Rousse.

"This is where we want to get involved.

"We hope the Tour de France Femmes will still be around in 100 years.

"I will fight, and I am very confident."

Van Vleuten is also looking forward to competing in the first-ever Tour de France Femmes and is hoping to back up her Giro d’Italia Donne title.

"I'm ready and very curious to see what awaits us," said van Vleuten.

"There is a bit of a fuss about it.

"Every now and then I think, let's wait before we say it's going to be really big and epic, but I sure hope it does."