MotoGP stars Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez and Nicky Hayden have paid tribute to Colin Edwards, who is to retire from racing at the end of 2014.

The trio were sitting alongside Edwards as the colourful 40-year-old Texan announced his decision during Thursday's pre-event press conference for his home round in Austin.

Rossi - who won the 2001 Suzuka 8 Hours with Edwards, then became his Factory Yamaha team-mate from 2005-2007 - was first to give his reaction:

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"Sincerely I'm very, very sad about the news because Colin is one of my best friends in the paddock and among all the riders," said the nine time world champion. "We shared the bike in the Suzuka 8 Hours in 2001 and 2000 and I think this is the best memory that we have together because we enjoy a lot and we won.

"Also we were team-mates for a long, long time in a great moment of my career, during great seasons for me with Yamaha. Always we stayed together in the box and tried to work together, but especially we enjoyed it a lot. Colin always came to my home town of Tavullia to ride motocross bikes at my track, now at the ranch but also where we trained before.

"I'm sad because he is a great guy, a great rider. We will miss him, but anyway it is a long season and we hope that Colin can remain [in MotoGP] in the future in some other work."

21-year-old reigning world champion Marquez added: "It is a little bit sad of course, but anyway I think Colin can be proud of his career. He started in the world championship when I was two years old! [laughter]

"All I can say about him is that from when I was 15, and I first came here, he already knew me and that was a big surprise for a young rider. He is a real fan of motorbikes. Congratulations for your career!"

Fellow American Nicky Hayden, who emerged victorious from a final turn victory showdown with Edwards at Assen 2006, said:

"I started watching Colin before these guys, because he was the young, hot American. I remember him when he started in the AMA. He took it by storm. He didn't just - he made a huge splash. He was fast immediately on 250s and then Superbike.

"We should we started in MotoGPs together. We were rookies together. Even sometimes now we're flying back to America and I think, 'wow this guy's got a lot of energy' because he already had a 10 year head start in Superbike, putting in a lot of big miles.

"He's given a lot this sport so I think, like everybody said, he can really be proud of his career. It's clear he's got a lot to look forward to. As a fellow American it's a shame. There's fewer and fewer of us around here. I hope soon we can see another wave of young Americans come in and keep carrying the flag.

"I just want to say good luck and take it easy for the rest of the year, make it easy on us!"

Double World Superbike champion Edwards is currently the oldest rider in MotoGP, having moved to grand prix in 2003. Riding for Aprilia, Honda and then Yamaha, Edwards claimed twelve MotoGP podiums and three pole positions before switching to Forward Racing and the new privateer category in 2012.

UPDATE: Dani Pedrosa: "My best memories of Colin are when he did his strong recovery in 2002 with the Superbike. When Troy had a big points lead but then Colin began winning and won the championship in the last race. I was watching that and it was one of my best memories of him."