To hear the Manxman speak before the start of Friday's stage 13 of the Tour de France to Saint-Amand-Montrond, he sounded as thought he had accepted the verdict of French sports daily L'Equipe, which on Friday morning declared "Cavendish's reign is over".
"Maybe I am just getting old," he said on Friday morning. "It's the cycle of life."
At that point he was reflecting on 48 hours which made up the lowest point of a turbulent Tour so far, crashing in Saint-Malo to miss yet another chance of victory, and then suffering the indignity of being sprayed with urine a day later as an angry spectator issued his own verdict on Cavendish's role in the collision.
But on Friday evening the beaming smile was back on Cavendish's face after he rode to his second win of the race and his 25th career Tour victory, a total which puts him joint third all-time alongside Andre Leducq.
Having done so much talking on the bike, the 28-year-old had no interest in answering his critics directly.
"I think it's irrelevant," he said of everything that went before Friday's stage. "I just like to win."
He needed to as well. Quite apart from making those L'Equipe headlines redundant, he knew he was running out of time if he was going to keep alive his remarkable record of collecting multiple stage wins in every Tour de France he has entered - with Friday the final sprint opportunity before the big finale in Paris.
In his career, he has never won fewer than three stages of a Tour, and that number came last year when he could blame Team Sky's focus on the general classification for not living up to his usual even loftier standards.
Omega Pharma-Quick Step, in contrast, are built to his specifications.
Although he took victory on stage five to Marseille, little else had gone right up to now. On Thursday he had blown a perfect lead-out from his team-mates to allow Marcel Kittel to steam past at the line in Tours, just the latest missed opportunity after three crashes - two involving Cavendish and the other the infamous meeting between the Orica GreenEdge bus and the finish line in Bastia - costing him further chances of glory.
He was repeating so often his belief that Kittel - who has three stage wins in this Tour - represents the "next big thing" that he began to sound like he believed he was Thursday's man.
That tuned had changed on Friday night.
"I'm so excited to win, so happy to win," he said. "It's been a difficult few days and it's nice to be on the podium again."
His Omega Pharma-Quick Step team set the pace for much of the early part of the day, and then kept in position when the peloton began to split amid the crosswinds later on.
When Saxo-Tinkoff attacked as Alberto Contador took 69 seconds out of the overall lead of Chris Froome, Cavendish was able to go with them and ride to victory.
"It was me on the podium but it should have been all of Omega Pharma-Quickstep today [Friday]," Cavendish added.
"They were all just incredible. They rode from kilometre 60 and they rode their hearts out. They rode into the ground.
"It wasn't really a master plan. We just felt the wind was in the right position so we started to ride a bit harder. We did it more to kind of make the peloton tired and finally it broke and we were racing.
"Those guys gave it everything. Yesterday [Thursday] they gave everything and I let them down in the final. Today [Friday] they put even more into it, even earlier and I'm so happy we could win. It's really nice."