The Belgian cycling championships had attracted huge crowds to the city of Leuven. The 101 Belgian riders had to cover 240 kilometres on a local circuit which included three climbs. A bunch sprint at the finish near the "Grote Markt" (central market place) was not to be expected, also because the weather conditions were harsh, with a scorching heat.
With defending champion Tom Boonen absent due to a knee injury, last year's runner-up Philippe Gilbert was the big favourite. Gilbert set up a solo effort some 47 kilometres from the finish, but he was chased by the Quick-Step riders and caught by the peloton.
Gilbert, of the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, tried his luck another two times in the last but one lap, but was caught back on each occasion. Stijn Devolder chose a better moment and managed an impressive solo effort.
The 30-year-old West-Fleming took his second Belgian gold medal, after Ronse in 2007. Gilbert again had to be content with the silver, with Frederik Veuchelen taking the bronze.
Devolder: "I did it my way"
Speaking after the finish, Devolder called the victory "one of his most beautiful career wins."
"I had been dreaming of this title the whole season. I had a rough year behind me, but the past few weeks were better. I did it my way: a win is only a real win when you cross the finish line alone, after a solo effort." Devolder also won his previous Belgian title after a solo effort, and was alone in front when he won the Tour of Flanders on two occasions.
The rider had not been selected for the Tour de France, after a disappointing Tour performance last year, but this could still change as Quick Step are looking for a rider to replace injured Tom Boonen.