The knight in navy Lycra pedalled his way past all others last night, securing the crown of Great Britain's most successful ever Olympian in his final Games appearance.
On yet another extraordinary Olympic day, Sir Chris Hoy roared around a deafening velodrome to win his sixth gold medal, this time in the men's keirin.
"I shut my eyes and I lunged and drove it all the way to the line," he said after his emotional podium appearance. "Then I heard this massive roar, and I hoped that it was for me."
It was one of another four gold medals for Team GB, who have now won 22, three more than the record total in Beijing. They may yet win more.
The day's first golden moment came in the triathlon, in which West Yorkshire brothers Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee went head-to-head.
Alistair, the elder of the pair, won and his younger brother equalled him in determination, surviving a 15-second time penalty for mounting his bicycle too early, to take bronze, before collapsing with exhaustion. But the day will be remembered for Hoy's glorious Olympic goodbye. The Scotsman did not rule out competing in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but the 2016 Olympics is a bridge too far. "This is enough for me, this is the perfect end to my Olympic career," the 36-year-old said. "I can't put into words what it means to me. It's one of the greatest feelings I have ever had. I'm 99.9 per cent sure I won't be competing in Rio. How can you top this?"
Hoy has been in stunning form since winning gold in the team sprint six days ago, but the race was a little closer than expected. The German Maximilian Levy passed him on the final lap, but the thighs came good round the final bend, and the crowd went wild. The flag was draped round his shoulders, the parents were embraced, and as the national anthem played there were one or two tears from the man on the podium. He said he was "looking forward to having a normal life for the next couple of months".
"Enjoy a drink or two. At the moment you know, If you walk to the shops you think that's 15 minutes on my feet. Can I afford it? It's nice not to have to think when you walk up stairs 'Oh my legs are killing me'," he said.
The day's damsel in distress was cyclist Victoria Pendleton, who lost in the final of the women's sprint to her long-time nemesis Australian Anna Meares, and in cruel fashion. She won the opening race of the best-of-three sprint final, but was subsequently disqualified for straying over the red line. In the second she was tactically outmanoeuvred. It is likely to be the 31-year-old's last race.
She was sporting enough to call Meares a "very worth winner" but also seemed to be glad to lay her career to rest, saying cycling was never her "dream or ambition" and that she "just happened to be good at it".
"In terms of training and racing, there's not so much I'll miss," she added. "I've had a skinful. I've been racing since 1989. I've never missed a season. I think people will understand if I want a break from it now. I've done a good job."
Earlier, 20-year-old Laura Trott, who has already won gold in the team pursuit, raced to a stunning victory in the omnium event. Cycling's answer to the heptathlon has six stages, and in the final race, the 500m time trial, Trott powered over the line in an Olympic record time, giving her a one-point victory. Britain has won seven out of a possible 10 medals in the velodrome.
Elsewhere, Britain won its first-ever Olympic dressage gold. The trio of Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte Dujardin held off arch-rivals Germany and the Netherlands.
The medal was a long time coming for Hester, 45, who has now contested four Olympics. The dressage star, from Gloucestershire, set a new Olympic record yesterday on his horse, Uthopia, only to have it beaten by Dujardin, his protege. "We've done what we've wanted to do, it's been a very stressful time for me through this whole thing," he said.
Team GB's Nick Dempsey secured a windsurfing silver medal and Robbie Grabarz took a bronze in the men's high jump by clearing 2.29m. The 24-year-old almost quit his sport last year after his world ranking dropped to 44th through his being "scared" to apply himself "100 per cent".Reuse content