Tom Boonen initiated the demurrage on the Taaienberg. Omega-Pharma’s leading light was joined by six other cyclists; his teammate Dries Devenyns, the Team Sky duo Juan Antonio Flecha and Mathew Hayman, Sep Vanmarcke (Garmin-Barracuda), Thor Hushovd (BMC) andn Matti Breschel (Rabobank).
Meanwhile last year’s winner Philippe Gilbert was out of the running thanks to a flat tyre.
The seven soon overtook the last survivor of a previous demurrage; Lieuwe Westra and Sven Vandousselaere. Hushovd and Breschel were forced to surrender their possition at the head of the race with 30km to go.
Devenyns and Hayman’s hopes of victory faded away on the cobbles of the Lange Munte. Flecha tried to break free with around 3km to go but couldn’t shake off the other leaders.
With the finnishing line in site, Boonen pulled out all the stops, but Vanmarcke was able to come in just ahead of the favourite.
Flecha was third, just a few metres behind.