Cancellara adds a third cycling "Monument" to his illustrious honours
Olympic time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara produced a devastating attack 17km from the finish line to win the one-day Tour of Flanders classic.
The Saxo Bank rider had been level with home rider Tom Boonen in the last 20km, but made his move on the penultimate cobbled climb of the 261km race.
The Swiss star crossed the finish line in six hours 25 minutes and 32 seconds.
Quickstep's Boonen finished over a minute behind while RadioShack's Lance Armstrong finished in 27th place.
The seven-time Tour de France champion made a rare team appearance, hoping to get accustomed to the the numerous cobblestone stretches which will be a feature of the third stage of this year's Tour de France.
"It went better than expected even though I felt a little like a fish out of water at times," said the Texan.
"I stayed consistent throughout the race, didn't panic."
It was only in the last three kilometres I really felt I could enjoy this
Britain's David Millar, winner of the Three Days of De Panne race earlier in the week, was among the riders crossing the finishing line alongside Armstrong and ended up in 32nd place.
Roger Hammond, racing for the Cervelo team, was the leading Briton, taking seven place overall.
Flanders, or the 'Ronde' as it is also known, is the biggest one-day classic in Flemish-speaking Belgium.
Cancellara has now won three of cycling's five "Monuments" having clinched the Paris-Roubaix in 2006 and the Milan-San Remo in 2008, becoming only the second Swiss rider to win the Ronde van Vlaanderen after Henry Suter did so in 1923.
The 29-year-old, who was forced to change his bike twice because of mechanical problems, was level with Boonen with 20km to go but, wary of the Quick-Step rider's superior sprinting skills in the final kilometre, made his break on the tough Wall of Geraardsbergen 245km into the race.
Utilising his extensive time-trial experience, Cancellara opened up a sizeable gap with only one climb, the Bosberg, to negotiate before crossing the finishing line in Meerbeke 74 seconds ahead of Boonen, with Belgium's Philippe Gilbert, racing for the Omega Pharma-Lotto team, claiming third.
"It was only in the last three kilometres I really felt I could enjoy this," said a delighted Cancellara.
"I stayed calm when I had the mechanical problems and kept cool when I went away with Boonen. But none of this was planned, neither the first attack or the second.
"Finally I got the win, though it was very complicated from beginning to end."
Boonen claimed his second successive runner-up one-day finish after he was beaten to victory in Milan-San Remo classic by Spain's Oscar Freire.
"I got cramp in one leg and my back wheel slipped at exactly the wrong moment," said Boonen.
"It was only a small crisis but by the time I got over it, it was too late."
Tour of Flanders 2010 results:
1. Fabian Cancellara (Swi/Saxo Bank) 6hrs, 25mins 32seconds
2. Tom Boonen (Belgium / Quick-Step) +1min 14secs
3. Philippe Gilbert (Belgium/Omega Pharma-Lotto) +2mins 10secs
4. Bjoern Leukemans (Belgium/Vacansoleil) +2mins 14secs
5. Tyler Farrar (U.S./Garmin) +2mins 35secs
6. George Hincapie (U.S./BMC Racing Team) same time
7. Roger Hammond (Britain/Cervelo) same time
8. Maxim Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan/Astana) same time
9. Danilo Hondo (Germany/Lampre) same time
10. William Bonnet (France/Bbox-Bouygues) same time