Cav coy on Commonwealth come-get-me call
A precocious British talent, his illustrious team, a stand-off over money (or is it ambition?), mega-rich rivals waiting greedily in the wings and angry words about a lack respect...sounds familiar, doesn't it?
He was in London this week to help promote "Chasing Legends", an excellent documentary about the 2009 Tour de France (if you know any cycling nuts, the Christmas gift dilemma is sorted), and was in typically forthright form on all matters apart from one - namely, which team he will be riding for in 2012?
The film is basically a Musketeers-style paean to the virtues of teamwork, particularly HTC-Columbia teamwork, but it was hard to ignore the elephant in the cinema for long.
Come on Cav, I ventured, what's the story with the team?
And for probably the first time in four thoroughly enjoyable interviews with the Manx Missile over the years he didn't really answer the question.
Or maybe he did.
"I've said everything I'm going to say on that matter," he flat-batted. "I'm contracted to race for the team."
In case you missed what he's already said on the matter, here's a taster from what was expected to be a fairly humdrum pre-Commonwealth Games press conference in Delhi.
"I'm committed to a contract I signed a few years ago. There's been no goodwill, no bonuses, nothing. I'm kind of abused for what I've achieved but I've been contracted to do it, so I have to do it.
"The pressures are incredible. I know the people around me appreciate that but I'm not sure if my team does - not my team as a whole, but the manager.
"With the pressures and the normal life I've lost, I should see the benefits but I'm not. I'm disappointed."
That's the beauty of Cav for a journalist, get him going and he rarely stops until he has burst through the tape, obliterating all and sundry. Much like his cycling.
And when a rider like him - the closest thing professional road racing has to a home banker in a bunch sprint - says he is disappointed with his employers, the cycling world sits up and takes notice. Much like Rooney.
There is, of course, a good chance this will fizzle out as quickly and as suddenly as the want-away Wazza tale did at Old Trafford.
Cavendish, always quick to share the plaudits when he wins, remains loyal to his team-mates and Team HTC-Columbia's support staff. There is no dressing room disharmony here (well, not with rival sprinter Andre Greipel already on his way next season).
And with a basic annual salary rumoured to be north of £1m, the 25-year-old from Douglas is definitely one of cycling's top earners.
But that contract is now nearly three years old and while Cavendish is nowhere near as bombastic off the bike as he is on it, he has a firm idea of his status within the sport.
It would be fair to say he thinks he is overdue to pay rise. This, however, is where things get complicated.
Team HTC-Columbia were born from the wreckage of Team Telekom/T-Mobile Team. Formerly a well-resourced powerhouse in the peloton, the German-based outfit was brought to its knees by a spate of doping scandals in the mid-noughties.
US entrepreneur Bob Stapleton became the team's new owner and rechristened it as Team High Road. He then began hiring a multinational crop of talented youngsters to herald a new beginning - a moral high road, if you like.
With these two firms providing the cash, Stapleton and his lieutenants assembled a top-notch squad, capable of competing in every race on the calendar. The "Chasing Legends" Tour de France was probably the team's high point but there were numerous bright spots.
But when you have reached the top, there is usually only one place you can go, and that, almost imperceptibly and certainly very gradually, is where Team HTC-Columbia appear to be headed.
Don't get me wrong, with five more TdF stage wins for Cav and his points victory at the Vuelta, Greipel's numerous successes and a number of victories for the team's other leading lights, it's not been a shabby year.
But some of the team's best riders have been poached - most notably Norwegian talent Edvald Boasson Hagen and the American stalwart George Hincapie - and the lack of a genuine "yellow jersey" contender has left the team reliant on Cav's ability to win sprints.
Cavendish won five stages during this summer's Tour de France. Photo: Getty
With the Columbia deal up next summer, the need for fresh investment is obvious.
It is against this backdrop that Cavendish's remarks about the pressure he is under start to make more sense. Rightly or wrongly, he feels he is carrying the team somewhat and is being asked to do so without the all-star cast that backed him in the past.
There is another element to this and it relates to a second subject I reluctantly brought up at the premiere: drugs.
There is no doubt cycling has made big strides to tackle what was an endemic problem a decade ago. It also does considerably more in this regard (and at great cost to its finances and reputation) than a number of other sports.
But it has still not eradicated doping and while it is naïve to think any sport will ever totally deter cheating, cycling's reputation is more vulnerable than most. This does not help when it comes to attracting new sponsors to the sport.
So what will become of Cav?
I honestly don't know, although if this was a football story the Manchester City of the piece would be Team Sky.
British, loaded and ambitious, they look like a match made in heaven, and that's even before you take into account their shared links with the all-conquering GB track cycling operation.
There is one big problem with this union, though: Team Sky want to win the Tour de France within the next four years - and winning a Tour and delivering a fresh Cavendish to the front of the pack with 200m to go are probably beyond one team.
Perhaps Cavendish should heed Sir Alex Ferguson's warning about the neighbour's cow.