The Manxman was the only member of the 2008 Great Britain track squad to come away from the Beijing Games without a medal and, though he has gone on to become one of the greatest sprinters of all time - with 26 Tour de France stages to his name - he has unfinished business and a gap to fill in his palmares.
"I think an Olympic medal is the only thing missing from what I can physically achieve as a cyclist," said Cavendish in an interview with British newspaper The Telegraph on new year's day. "I can't win the Tour de France, but I've pretty much won everything else that I can within my physical realm, so that's the only thing missing."
Cavendish, who hopes to ride the Omnium in Rio, made a concerted return to the track last summer, collecting UCI points at the opening Revolution Series meet and at the Dudenhofen Grand Prix, which allowed him to qualify for the winter's Track World Cup events, along with the Track World Championships in London in March.
As well as linking up with his new teammates at Dimension Data and getting some road miles in the bank, he has been dedicated in his track training, spending time up at the Manchester velodrome and joining his GB endurance teammates for a camp at Tenerife in November. He will make his first track appearance of 2016 at this evening's Revolution Series meet in Manchester.
"I've been spending a fair bit of time on the track in Manchester, we've been doing squad sessions with the team pursuit boys twice a week in the velodrome and I've done some extra sessions on my own behind the derny. Then I've been in the gym a fair amount too, but I need to balance it all with my road riding," said Cavendish.
"My road season starts at the end of January so I have to get my base miles in, you know. I'm not a track rider, from this year I'm a Team Dimension Data rider and that must come first."
The main obstacle for Cavendish at this stage is selection, with Ed Clancy and Jon Dibben both also in line for the Omnium. Clancy has looked like GB's preferred option, even if he has been hampered by a back injury in recent months, and whoever gets the nod will have to link up as part of the team pursuit squad.
“I’m not trying just to get a place in the team. If I go to Rio, I want to get a result," said Cavendish. "The thing is, with the track, I still have to get selected for the Olympics, so it's not like I've been selected and am basing my season around that."
Cavendish will stake his claim at the Hong Kong World Cup later this month, where GB coach Haiko Salzwedel has warned he "has to deliver, full stop".