Sir Chris Hoy had an “unparalleled impact” on his sport, British Cycling president Brian Cookson said today after the six-time Olympic champion confirmed his retirement.
The 37-year-old Scot had been contemplating continuing until the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but has decided enough is enough and confirmed he was quitting the sport at a lunchtime press conference in Edinburgh today.
He exits the arena as Britain's most decorated Olympian, having won two golds in London to overhaul Sir Steve Redgrave's record of five.
Cookson said: "The impact that Sir Chris Hoy has had on our sport since he won his first gold medal in Athens in 2004 is unparalleled.
"It goes without saying that not only is Chris an absolutely phenomenal athlete, but he is also an exceptional individual.
"The fact that he's acquired six gold medals and is Britain's most successful ever Olympian is testament to this.
"But Chris has done so much more for cycling - he was one of the first track riders to propel cycling into the mainstream back in 2008, bringing track cycling to new audiences and inspiring thousands of people to get on their bikes.
"Chris has always been a fantastic role model - his professionalism, passion for the sport and his determination to succeed at the highest level is central to the Great Britain Cycling Team ethos and is something that he has helped to foster amongst his colleagues as they look ahead to Rio.
"This truly does feel like the end of an era and we have a lot to thank Sir Chris Hoy for at British Cycling. Although I know Chris will still be involved in the sport and that he will continue to work with us, I want to wish him all the best for the future."
Sir Dave Brailsford, the performance director of the Great Britain team, said: "I can't speak highly enough of Chris and his career.
"On a personal note I will never forget his Kilo in Athens - it was one of the most epic Olympic moments that I've ever experienced, the tension in the build-up was unreal. Chris' application, athleticism and dedication are second to none and I've said it many times but he is a true Olympic champion who embodies all of the Olympic values.
"Chris is always welcome to come back to the velodrome and share his experiences and wisdom with the next generation of cyclists, and I wish him the best of luck in his retirement."
Hoy said his one key disappointment in retiring now was not having the opportunity to compete in a velodrome named in his honour in Glasgow at next year's Commonwealth Games.
Hoy is an ambassador for the Games, and David Grevemberg, chief executive of Glasgow 2014, added: "We respect Sir Chris Hoy's decision to retire from international competition and pay tribute to his spectacular achievements at the highest levels of elite world sport over the past two decades.
"Sir Chris is not only Britain's greatest Olympian, he is an inspiration and a first-class Ambassador for Scotland and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
"We look forward to continuing our excellent relationship with him as, together, we share the excitement and potential Glasgow and Scotland's Commonwealth Games hold for the next generation of athletes aspiring for Gold."
Mark Cavendish, the former track star who has won 23 individual Tour de France stages and became world road race champion in 2011, told Press Association Sport: "He's one of the most professional athletes I've ever seen, one of the nicest men, on and off the bike, that I've ever met.
"What he's done for cycling for this country has been bigger than anybody can even put into words.
"I'm proud that as I was growing in the sport that he was the face of my sport for so many years in this country."
Louise Martin, chair of SportScotland paid tribute to Hoy's role as an ambassador in his home country.
"Sir Chris has achieved an unprecedented level of success in sport, yet has always remained remarkably modest about his incredible achievements.
"Our greatest ever Olympian, Chris' professionalism, positive attitude, and dedication to his sport made him the perfect role model to children and young people as well as to those aspiring to be as good as him in track cycling and other sports.
"He has boosted Scottish sport over a long and glittering career and retires as a double Commonwealth Games champion, six-time Olympic champion, and 11-time World Champion.
"Chris had dearly hoped to compete at Glasgow 2014 but knows only too well how difficult it would have been to sustain the fiercely intense training regime required to succeed at that level, so we fully back his decision to retire, wish him every success in the future, and, above all, thank him profusely for his immense contribution to Scottish sport."
Jason Kenny, who won the team sprint with Hoy in Beijing and was a double-gold medallist in London, said: "In terms of Chris' contribution to the sport, he has just always been there as far as I'm concerned.
"All the years that I have been involved in the sport, Chris has always been there at the very top level."
Victoria Pendleton, who retired following the London Olympics, said: "Sir Chris has been an incredible ambassador for the the sport of track cycling not only nationally but also globally.
"Chris was a huge inspiration throughout my career, he always had a unquestionable work ethic at training, he is a dedicated and fair sportsman, an ideal role model.
"I am sure that he will be very successful in whatever he chooses to pursue next in his life, it's in his blood!"
British Cycling's head coach Shane Sutton claims Hoy's contribution to his sport was off the scale.
"The contribution of Sir Chris Hoy to the sport of cycling in this country, I don't think is measurable," Sutton said.
"I think he has put us up there with footballers, with the recognition that athletes receive these days.
"On the journey he started several years ago back in Sydney, with the likes of the Queallys, Staffs and Wiggins of this world and so on - I think he has been at the forefront of that, because other guys have disappeared over time or wandered off to do other things.
"Sir Chris has been the face of it and I don't think the contribution is measurable, but it is massive."
Chris Boardman, who won the individual pursuit in the Barcelona Olympics and wore the yellow jersey at the Tour de France on three separate occasions, said: "For more than a decade, I've watched Sir Chris Hoy grow both as an athlete and as a person.
"His ability to perform consistently at the highest level over such a long period of time has astounded me but what has impressed me the most is watching him achieve all this whilst maintaining real integrity, always with a humble demeanour always respectful of others and genuinely appreciative of the people around him.
"I think he is the best role model for British cycling, indeed for British sport, in living memory bar none."
Andy Murray hailed his fellow countryman for his impact in the sport.
"He's obviously incredible at his sport," the US Open champion told the BBC.
"(He has) great longevity which shows he is extremely professional and a very hard worker and he will enjoy his retirement.
"He certainly deserves it and he will go down as one of the greatest sportsmen Scotland has ever had but also the UK."