I might actually give a detailed analysis/opinion of something for the first time ever:
Mark Cavendish for 5 years was a totally dominant sprinter who won everything by miles, no matter where he started from, some of his sprints were more like 250 metre attacks than sprint finishes. The one when he caught the breakaway alone when he was with team sky was a very memorable victory, and of course his MSR win was special.
It has always been said that Cav has had the strongest team to win, and it is true that the supreme HTC train which IMO is the most dominant sprint train ever helped Cavendish, Greipel and Goss win many many more races than they would have without. In 2009 when he won 6 stages, his team was incredible, I don't think Etixx if they tried especially for Cav could even match it. The team was:
Mark Renshaw (best leadout man in the world)
Bernie Eisel (always knew where to be)
Bert Grabsch (2008 TT WC)
Maxime Monfort (Former TT NC)
Kim Kirchen (Former TT NC)
Tony Martin (wasn't actually the best time trialist in the world ATM)
Michael Rogers (3 time TT WC)
George Hincapie(Classics Specialist)
Now that team is just phenomenal, and they led from km 1 until 200m to go, where Renshaw would always always drop Cavendish off. Compare that with this tour, there was less sprint stages and Cavendish was probably only dropped off in a good position once, and greipel still beat him, so the chance of him winning the sprint has already decreased, since position is everything.
Let's compare that to what Etixx can offer him now, if they really really tried.
(Stybar may be in there somewhere)
I don't believe that for a second this team could match the 2009 team for power and dominance, and they always have 2 mountain goats anyway. So already the knackered worn out old Manxman has lost a lot of his advantage.
Now the second point, opposition. Apart from HTC there were not really many other focused teams that could compete for the front of the bunch, normally you just had Julian dean and Tyler farrar getting in the way, whereas today. You have Lotto with Greipel, Katusha for Kristoff and Giant Alpecin, all 3 are powerful teams that can knock Etixx off of the front, and Cav never had to deal with that before 2012.
Next we have actual sprint opposition, in 2009 there was Thor Hushovd, Tyler farrar, Ciolek, Dumoulin, Boonen. Obviously these were the best sprinters at the time ( don't really know where Petacchi was that year) but I don't really think that they are really is fast as today's sprinters are.(Not forgetting that in 2012 Goss was quite good but what happened to him?) Today Cav has to face Greipel, Kristoff, Bouhanni, Degenkolb, Sagan, Kittel. I believe these are much faster than what he is used to.
Then you have the idea of age and if Cavendish really has lost it. Personally I think he has been looking very laboured this tour, and there has got to be some reason for this. Is it possible that he has lost speed or is it just acceleration? Has he burnt out after the years of bodily torture? I think that inevitably he has lost a bit of his kick as he's got to 30, but look at other 30 year old cyclists, vroome won the tour, Contador won the giro, terpstra won Paris Roubaix last year, Wiggins broke the hour record, greipel is 33 himself. Is it the case that 30 year old riders are done, I don't think so.
Then you have confidence, Cav said himself that confidence plays a big part in sprinting, in 2009 when he worshipped his own shrine, he KNEW that he wouldn't be beaten and if he was beaten he would just show it was a fluke the next day. If he loses his confidence he won't win as many races and I believe that that is what has happened.
For me MTN cannot offer a strong enough train unless they just intend to kick off from 2k to go. He has been linked with Trek, he would have Cance some invisible guy probably Renshaw but who else? BMC are wttc so that might be a good mov e but they are looking after tj and Cav wouldn't be focused on. Which team would actually focus solely on Cavendish from now on? I can't think of many.
The only thing that is guaranteed his that we will find out how bad the problem is, that will likely be in the ToB when he will come up against Kittel for the first time this year.