I have had this same problem as well just getting the torrent file, I had put it down to shaping as well but I was just over in Brisbane for two weeks over Xmas and used my sons telstra cable connection while there.
I had exactly the same problem there at times as well so it could be actual congestion on the overseas site you are trying to get the torrent file from as a few times I also got "the server has too many connections " errors as well and this was on an unshaped australian telstra cable connection.