He had just launched his sprint, coming from Marcel Kittel's rear wheel at the right moment, when his gears jumped. He was convinced he could have won but ended up fourth with the German taking his third stage of the race and the overall.
"My gears wouldn't stay into the 11 (sprocket) going from the 12. I thought I had it perfect but when I went to kick, it flicked my back wheel up. It seems that there's something ever day," he told the journalists just past the finish line.
"I felt brilliant today. The team were brilliant today too. It looks like all the guys are good too. I'm better than I thought I was, so that's alright. That's a positive I can take."
Cavendish replayed the sprint in his mind and in his own words.
"For us the finish line was at 1.5km to go. If we had anybody there for us it was an extra and Rensburg and Mark Renshaw were there.
"We knew that Quick-Step would come late, so we knew that if we didn't get swamped in the last corner… I was nervous that Trentin was coning inside. I backed off and let him and Mark and Kittel go. I thought I could play a bit and use Kittel to close the gap. It worked out sweet. I knew he'd have to launch earlier than 200m to go and I could come back. But it didn't quite work out."
Despite failing to win a stage, Cavendish was happy with his season debut in the Dubai Tour. He is now considering riding the Volta ao Algarve before returning the UAE for the Abu Dhabi Tour.