Updated: Wednesday, 16th August 2017 @ 5:19pm

On track: Olympic cycling champion Jason Kenny joins Transpennine Express for Piccadilly train-ing session

On track: Olympic cycling champion Jason Kenny joins Transpennine Express for Piccadilly train-ing session

| By Liam Geraghty

Olympic gold medallist Jason Kenny got on his bike at Manchester Piccadilly to pedal Transpennine Express’ new train timetable today.

The three-time Olympic champion was the rail company’s secret celebrity guest at the launch event for the changes introduced on Friday (May 16), showcasing a cycling challenge that allowed commuters to win free return tickets.

And the Bolton athlete acknowledged the role that trains played in his early career.

Kenny said: “I don’t use trains as much these days as I used to – but I used to get the train from Bolton to Manchester every day for training.

“We’ve got great little setup here where we’ll be meeting some of the passengers who will be using the new service. And there’s a game here that apparently makes bubbles as well and you can never have too many bubbles.”

A two-minute sprint on the bubble-powering bike set up in the train station allowed any challengers to scoop free tickets as Transpennine Express celebrated offering 90,000 more seats in the rail reshuffle.

Back on track, Kenny – who grabbed team sprint gold in Beijing in 2008 before repeating his success four years later and adding the individual gong to his trophy cabinet – insisted he is cranking up his training schedule after a below-par display in February’s UCI World Championships in Santiago de Cal, Colombia.

Kenny, riding with Kian Emadi-Coffin and Philip Hindes, saw his team sprint trio finish fifth and followed that up with and the reigning keirin champion surrendered his crown to France’s Francois Pervis.

“It’s going really well. I’ve had few heavy weeks so it’s just getting the hard work in now that will hopefully pay off towards the end of the season when it matters.

“I got three fifth places (in the world championships). Close but not quite. We weren’t far off and the main thing is we were still in the game and in the pack – we just need to find that last little tenth to get into the medals and, hopefully, up to the front.”

Kenny is chasing gold this summer when he represents England at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow – even though it will mean feeling the heat as he extends his season into August.

And as the road to Rio comes into view with 2016 Olympic qualifying on the horizon, Kenny admits that he will have to be prepared.

“It’s a bit of a tricky one, right in the middle of the summer. Our season is typically in the winter so hopefully we’ll have a bit of off-season form if you like. We’ll have to get that right.

“Rio’s obviously our main goal and qualifying for that starts next year. That makes it increasingly important to get a good off-season and put a lot of base training in now. All that makes the Commonwealth Games a little difficult timing-wise so hopefully we’ll be going ok and be competitive.”

Transpennine Express, who are also holding events in Sheffield and Leeds to celebrate the launch, have introduced a new fleet of electric trains to run between Manchester and Scotland with extra services.

Main image courtesy of Olympics via YouTube, with thanks.