"He's still the greatest. Just because you have six gold medals, doesn't mean to say you're better than he is," said the champion cyclist, who overtook the rowing legend's tally of five medals on Tuesday night.
"He did it in five consecutive Games and when you realise how much goes into those four years... for him to do that five times, he's the greatest. Until someone does that six times consecutively, he's still the greatest.
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"I was a rower as a schoolboy and to have somebody like Steve here to congratulate me, it's quite surreal.
"I couldn't have wished for a better end to it all," added the sportsman, who said London 2012 was likely to be his last Olympics.
Sir Steve was one of the first to congratulate the titan on two wheels, who broke down in tears after winning the keirin event at the velodrome.
A crowd of 6,000 chanted: "Hoy, Hoy" as he punched the air after crossing the finish line.
The Scot's parents Alison and David – who held a banner which read 'The real McHoy' – tearfully embraced as they watched their son triumph.
And famous supporters, among them Princes Harry and William, Peter Phillips and Lord Coe, punched the air with delight.
"I'm in shock. You try to compose yourself but it's surreal," said the 36-year-old who shed tears once more as the national anthem was played.
"I wanted to win gold in front of my home crowd. I saw everyone stepping up to the plate and thankfully it worked out for me, too."