The days when the Etixx-QuickStep sprinter ruled imperious on the Tour's flat stages may seem like a distant memory, but the mercurial sprinter insists that there are still plenty of chances to cross the finish line first in this race.
Cavendish was outclassed in a sprint for the second time this week, as Lotto-Soudal's green jersey wearer Greipel again took the honours on the line. Tinkoff-Saxo's Peter Sagan also beat Cavendish to the line for the second time in this edition of the Tour.
Famed for his mercurial outbursts after losing, including ejecting his helmet from the HTC-Columbia team bus in 2010 and stealing a reporter's dictaphone in 2013, Cavendish was more downbeat than enraged when he spoke to reporters after Stage 5. Even so, there was a little trademark grumpiness on show.
“I think instead of the news being that I'm beaten again, maybe it should be that Greipel has won. He's a phenomenal sprinter, he's in the green jersey and that's the second stage he won this year,” Cavendish said.
"It was a bit chaotic. I went around Sagan, then I kicked. I saw Démare kick and on his right, Kristoff. I went by Démare and then drag stripped Kristoff, but then Greipel and Sagan just came past me in the end. I didn't feel great in the sprint, but nobody felt good today. I was going OK but they were just going faster.”
Cavendish also highlighted the fact that Matteo Trentin was missing from his sprint train as a possible contributing factor, but maintained that the team was not at fault in the finish.
"We were a man short in the end as Matteo was not 100 per cent after his crash today. But really, I was just beaten by two very strong guys."
Even so, Cavendish remained resolute that it was only a matter of time until he takes his first stage win since the 2013 Tour, after crashing out in Stage 1 last year.
"There are 21 stages at the Tour de France. There are still a few more opportunities. My confidence is good. I think everyone still has high morale after Tony's win yesterday, and I think for sure we'll keep going to try to get more wins at this Tour."
Etixx-QuickStep Brian Holm also told reporters that the team should not have let Cavendish commit himself whole-heartedly during the previous day’s cobbled stage to Cambrai, which saw team-mate Martin take the yellow jersey.
Observers have also noted that Cavendish was using an older version of team sponsor Specialized's Venge aerodynamic bike in the finale of Stage 5, rather than the new frame that was released with great fanfare during the Tour de Suisse. No comment has been made on this choice by Etixx-QuickStep or Specialized.