SALAMANCA (Spain) (AFP) British sprint king Mark Cavendish produced another trademark finish to win the 18th stage of the Tour of Spain here Thursday, his third individual victory in this years event. Italys Vincenzo Nibali retained the race leaders red jersey after the 148.9 km ride from Valladolid to Salamanca. The Liquigas rider holds a 39sec overall lead over Spains Ezequiel Mosquera of the Xacobeo team. The title decider is fully expected to come on Saturdays mountainous penultimate stage, a 168.8km ride which ends on the summit of the Bola del Mundo in the Guadarrama mountain range northwest of Madrid. Ezequiel Mosquera and I will fight it out for the Tour in the Bola del Mundo, Nibali said in Salamanca. I suppose that others will attack me but hes the most dangerous. Thursdays route included no major climbs and produced no big surprises. A group of eight riders staged a breakaway just minutes after the start, but they were reeled in with just a few kilometres from the finish, and it was left to the sprinters to fight for the victory. Cavendish completed the stage in three hours, 27 minutes and 11 seconds, leading a pack of 13 riders who finished with the same time. Second was Juan Jose Haedo of Argentina and third Portuguals Manuel Cardoso. The Isle of Man rider, who many consider the best sprinter in the world, also scored back-to-back stage victories in the 12th and 13th stages. Cavendish already has a remarkable 15 stage victories from the Tour of France over the past three years and five over two years in the Giro dItalia. The 25-year-old had the honour of pulling on the Tour of Spain red jersey after the first stage when he led his HTC-Columbia team to victory in the team time trial, relinquishing the lead at the end of the third stage. Its me that crosses the line first but its the guys who put me there, he said Thursday, referring to his teammates. The stage was technical, there lots of roundabouts in the last 20 kilometres. We dropped back with about four kilometres to go...I was panicking a bit. But he paid tribute to his teammate, Peter Velits, the Slovakian who scored a surprise win in Wednesdays stage, who took the strain and put in a kilometre in the wind, and that shows how we work together. On Friday, the longest stage in the Tour takes the riders 231.2km from Piedrahita to Toledo and includes one category two climb near the start. The Tour of Spain, the third of the Grand Tours after the Giro dItalia and Tour de France, wraps up in Madrid on Sunday.