The race took the riders over 205 kilometres from the East Flemish capital to Wevelgem in West Flanders.
A favourable side-wind accompanied the riders on the 73rd outing of this Flemish classic allowing them to cover 52 km in only an hour's time.
France's Voeckler then led a break-away group with Belgians Van Vooren and Zingle and Dutch riders Schmitz and Timmer. At one point they extended their lead to five minutes.
The Katsberg, the first slope of the race, thinned out the lead group losing its Dutch content. In the peloton Quick-Step's first rider Tom Boonen experienced equipment failure. A replacement bike was so long in coming that the Flemish rider sat himself down by the wayside. Boonen lost a minute and a half.
The race then entered the hills with Gilbert, Hayman and Hushovd closing the gap on the leaders during their first passage over Kemmel Hill.
After the second passage four riders, Sylvain Chavanel, Ian Stannard, Peter Sagan and Maciej Bodnar took off. Behind them the peloton snapped in two. The quartet went 30 seconds into the lead.
Even for Britain's Stannard this did not prove to be sufficient as a thinned out peloton overran the Briton in the closing stages of the race. Tom Boonen was fastest in the sprint winning the race.