Mexican authorities say seven cyclists and an assistant kidnapped while training in the mountainous outskirts of the capital have been freed.

Anti-kidnapping czar Renato Sales tells Radio Formula the five men and three women were released after a Federal Police unit negotiated with the abductors.

The athletes were kidnapped Thursday morning on a highway near Ajusco, a mountain to the south of Mexico City, and taken away in two vans.

Sales says a ransom was paid to the kidnappers.

President Enrique Pena Nieto said Friday that the most important thing was to secure their freedom, but now authorities will pursue those responsible.

The kidnapping comes at a sensitive time for the government, which is under the spotlight over the disappearance of 43 teachers college students last month.