Holger Hagenbusch from Germany and Polish citizen Krzysztof Chmielewski were initially thought t have fallen into a ravine

Police in Mexico believe that two round-the-world cyclists from Europe found dead in a ravine were murdered and not the victims of crashing off the road as had earlier been thought.

German national Holger Hagenbusch, aged 43, and Polish citizen Krzysztof Chmielewski, 37, had each been travelling the world by bike when they encountered each other in the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico, reports BBC News.

According to investigators, the pair met each other on 20 April in the town of San Cristobal de las Casas and agreed to undertake a 200-kilometre ride together to the site of Mayan ruins at Palenque.

After relatives reported them missing, Mr Chmielewski’s body was discovered at the bottom of a ravine below a twisting mountain road on 26 April, with Mr Hagenbusch’s corpse found on 4 May.

At first, investigators said the pair appeared to have lost control of their bikes, possibly after being run off the road by a motorist, and crashed to their deaths.

Investigators initially said the pair appeared to have lost control on a winding mountain road, but after local cyclists challenged that finding, special prosecutor Luis Alberto Sanchez who is handling the case says they were murdered, apparently during a robbery.

He said: “Our investigations up to now indicate this was an intentional homicide.”

He added that Mr Chmielewski had a head injury that was possibly due to being shot.

Reiner Hagenbusch’s brother, who travelled to Mexico to identify the body,  believes that initially the case was subject to an attempted cover-up. H

e said that both the bodies of both victims had been mutilated.

“The Polish cyclist was decapitated and had a foot missing,” he explained in a post on Facebook.

Suspicions of foul play have been heightened by the fact that Mr Chmielewski’s body was found not next to his own bike, but that of Mr Hagenbusch.

The state government has said that it will step up the investigation to try and track down those responsible.

Mr Sánchez told BBC Mundo: "Those that did this wanted to make it appear like an accident, so they put the bike there, but they made a mistake and used the German's bike.

"We think that they were travelling short distance from each other, maybe one was assaulted first ... and then the second one arrived and they were both captured."

"It was very premature to call this an accident,” he added. “The bike did not show signs of having been in a traffic accident."

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.